Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley administered a study to seek out that bats’ fierce immune reaction to viruses could drive viruses to duplicate faster, in order that once they jump to mammals with average immune systems, like humans, the viruses wreak deadly havoc.
Some bats that are known to be the first source of infection for humans are shown to host immune systems that are perpetually primed to mount defenses against viruses.
virus infection in these bats results in a swift response that walls the virus out of cells. While this might protect the bats from getting infected with high viral loads, it encourages these viruses to breed more quickly within a number before a defense is often mounted.
This makes bats a reservoir of highly infectious virus particles. When these viruses infect other mammals they quickly overtake the host mechanism as their system isn’t as fast-acting as in bats, resulting in a higher fatality.
“Some bats are ready to mount this robust antiviral response, but also balance it with an anti-inflammation response. Our system would generate widespread inflammation if attempting this same antiviral strategy.
But bats appear uniquely suited to avoiding the threat of immunopathology,” said Cara Brook, a postdoctoral Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley and therefore the first author of the study.
The researchers also noted that disrupting the natural habitat of bats thanks to increased urbanization might create stress within the mammals so now they shed even more viruses through their saliva, urine, and feces resulting in more infections in humans.
Brook was curious how bats’ rapid immune reaction affects the evolution of the viruses they host, so she conducted experiments on cultured cells from two bats and, as an impact, one monkey.
When challenged by viruses mimicking Ebola and Marburg, the various responses of the cell lines in bat were striking. While the African green monkey cell line was rapidly overwhelmed and killed by the viruses, a subset of the rousette bat cells successfully walled themselves far away from virus infection.
“It isn’t random that tons of those viruses are coming from bats. Bats aren’t even that closely associated with us, so we might not expect them to host many human viruses.
But this work demonstrates how to bat immune systems could drive the virulence that overcomes this,” said Mike Boots, a disease ecologist and UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology.
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