How do we know when a belief or behavior qualifies as pathological? Are
institutions vulnerable to pathological beliefs and behaviors? Nicolas
de Condorcet sought answers to these questions using Enlightenment
reason. This chapter argues that Condorcet’s modern liberal approach to
diagnosing and treating pathological beliefs and behaviors (1) didn’t go
far enough, and (2) contained significant blind spots that we are only now
coming to appreciate through scientific discoveries. Currently the United
States and much of the world is crippled by two pandemics: the coronavirus
(a physical virus) and the right-wing cult (a cognitive virus). This chapter
introduces the theory of the cognitive immune system and discusses the
affordances and limits of the metaphor to medical epidemiology.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by beta-coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that has rapidly spread across the globe starting from February 2020. It is well established that during viral infection, extracellular vesicles become delivery/presenting vectors of viral material. However, studies regarding extracellular vesicle function in COVID-19 pathology are still scanty. Here, we performed a comparative study on exosomes recovered from the plasma of either MILD or SEVERE COVID-19 patients. We show that although both types of vesicles efficiently display SARS-CoV-2 spike-derived peptides and carry immunomodulatory molecules, only those of MILD patients are capable of efficiently regulating antigen-specific CD4+ T-cell responses. Accordingly, by mass spectrometry, we show that the proteome of exosomes of MILD patients correlates with a proper functioning of the immune system, while that of SEVERE patients is associated with increased and chronic inflammation. Overall, we show that exosomes recovered from the plasma of COVID-19 patients possess SARS-CoV-2-derived protein material, have an active role in enhancing the immune response, and possess a cargo that reflects the pathological state of patients in the acute phase of the disease.
Neoplasic transformation is a continuous process that occurs in the body. Even before clinical signs, the immune system is capable of recognizing these aberrant cells and reacting to suppress them. However, transformed cells acquire the ability to evade innate and adaptive immune defenses through the secretion of molecules that inhibit immune effector functions, resulting in tumor progression. Hormones have the ability to modulate the immune system and are involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Hormones can control both the innate and adaptive immune systems in men and women. For example androgens reduce immunity through modulating the production of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators. Women are more prone than men to suffer from autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis and others. This is linked to female hormones modulating the immune system. Patients with autoimmune diseases consistently have an increased risk of cancer, either as a result of underlying immune system dysregulation or as a side effect of pharmaceutical treatments. Epidemiological data on cancer incidence emphasize the link between the immune system and cancer. We outline and illustrate the occurrence of hormone-related cancer and its relationship to the immune system or autoimmune diseases in this review. It is obvious that some observations are contentious and require explanation of molecular mechanisms and validation. As a result, future research should clarify the molecular pathways involved, including any causal relationships, in order to eventually allocate information that will aid in the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancer and autoimmune illness.
The socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) offers a unique opportunity to examine the impacts of adolescent social isolation on the brain, immune system, and behavior. In the current study, male and female prairie voles were randomly assigned to be housed alone or with a same-sex cagemate after weaning (i.e., on postnatal day 21–22) for a 6-week period. Thereafter, subjects were tested for anxiety-like and depressive-like behaviors using the elevated plus maze (EPM) and Forced Swim Test (FST), respectively. Blood was collected to measure peripheral cytokine levels, and brain tissue was processed for microglial density in various brain regions, including the Nucleus Accumbens (NAcc), Medial Amygdala (MeA), Central Amygdala (CeA), Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis (BNST), and Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus (PVN). Sex differences were found in EPM and FST behaviors, where male voles had significantly lower total arm entries in the EPM as well as lower latency to immobility in the FST compared to females. A sex by treatment effect was found in peripheral IL-1β levels, where isolated males had a lower level of IL-1β compared to cohoused females. Post-weaning social isolation also altered microglial density in a brain region-specific manner. Isolated voles had higher microglial density in the NAcc, MeA, and CeA, but lower microglial density in the dorsal BNST. Cohoused male voles also had higher microglial density in the PVN compared to cohoused females. Taken together, these data suggest that post-weaning social housing environments can alter peripheral and central immune systems in prairie voles, highlighting a potential role for the immune system in shaping isolation-induced alterations to the brain and behavior.
Food components have long been recognized to play a fundamental role in the growth and development of the human body, conferring protective functionalities against foreign matter that can be severe public health problems. Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are essential to the human body, and individuals must meet their daily requirements through dietary sources. Micronutrients act as immunomodulators and protect the host immune response, thus preventing immune evasion by pathogenic organisms. Several experimental investigations have been undertaken to appraise the immunomodulatory functions of vitamins and minerals. Based on these experimental findings, this review describes the immune-boosting functionalities of micronutrients and the mechanisms of action through which these functions are mediated. Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals in plasma concentrations can lead to a reduction in the performance of the immune system functioning, representing a key contributor to unfavorable immunological states. This review provides a descriptive overview of the characteristics of the immune system and the utilization of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in preventative strategies designed to reduce morbidity and mortality among patients suffering from immune invasions or autoimmune disorders.
Maternal dietary micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids support development of the fetal and neonatal immune system. Whether supplementation is similarly beneficial for the mother during gestation has received limited attention. A scoping review of human trials was conducted looking for evidence of biochemical, genomic, and clinical effects of supplementation on the maternal immune system. The authors explored the literature on PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science databases from 2010 to the present day using PRISMA-ScR methodology. Full-length human trials in English were searched for using general terms and vitamin A, B12, C, D, and E; choline; iodine; iron; selenium; zinc; and docosahexaenoic/eicosapentaenoic acid. Of 1391 unique articles, 36 were eligible for inclusion. Diverse biochemical and epigenomic effects of supplementation were identified that may influence innate and adaptive immunity. Possible clinical benefits were encountered in malaria, HIV infections, anemia, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, and preventing preterm delivery. Only limited publications were identified that directly explored maternal immunity in pregnancy and the effects of micronutrients. None provided a holistic perspective. It is concluded that supplementation may influence biochemical aspects of the maternal immune response and some clinical outcomes, but the evidence from this review is not sufficient to justify changes to current guidelines.