Research Article

Measles virus infection diminishes preexisting antibodies that offer protection from other pathogens

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Science  01 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pp. 599-606
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay6485

The toll of measles on the immune system

Many of the deaths attributable to measles virus are caused by secondary infections because the virus infects and functionally impairs immune cells. Whether measles infection causes long-term damage to immune memory has been unclear. This question has become increasingly important given the resurgence in measles epidemics worldwide. Using a blood test called VirScan, Mina et al. comprehensively analyzed the antibody repertoire in children before and after natural infection with measles virus as well as in children before and after measles vaccination. They found that measles infection can greatly diminish previously acquired immune memory, potentially leaving individuals at risk for infection by other pathogens. These adverse effects on the immune system were not seen in vaccinated children.

Science, this issue p. 599

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