Epigenetics News

Epigenetic immunity to illness contradicts traditional view

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From The Scientist :

In humans, the immune system has two arms: innate and adaptive. The traditional view is that innate immunity is broad-acting and non-specific, while adaptive immunity establishes memories for very specific pathogens, explained Christine Stabell Benn, a professor of global health at the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen who also did not participate in the studies. “So, if you give a vaccine against measles you induce protective immunity against measles and nothing else.” But, she added, “what we have seen in our epidemiological studies is that vaccines [also] have non-specific effects.” The Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, for example, confers protection against a variety of infections with other microorganisms—and trained macrophages appear to be responsible. The new papers, said Stabell Benn, “are now providing the molecular mechanisms behind these epidemiological observations.”

Both training and tolerance induction in macrophages have a number of clinical implications, explained Netea. For example, too much tolerance can cause immunoparalysis—a life-threatening complication of sepsis, he said. Such patients could be helped, added Stunnenberg, “if we could turn around a paralyzed cell and activate it.” But training “can probably also in some situations be detrimental to the host,” said Stabell Benn, by potentially causing excessive inflammation, for example. Having the epigenomic information about these cells, she added, is therefore important “in the first place, to understand what is going on, and in the second place, because it offers the potential of both down-regulating over-energetic cells but also revitalizing those that have been paralyzed.”

It’s not Darwin’s world any more, but don’t expect tenured profs to admit that.

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9 Replies to “Epigenetic immunity to illness contradicts traditional view

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    I thought it was the non-tenured profs who didn’t dare admit it. 😉

  2. 2
    AVS says:

    Can someone briefly explain to me how epigenetics refutes the theory of evolution?

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Which theory of evolution? There is no “the theory of evolution.”

  4. 4
    AVS says:

    I’m going to go ahead and assume that was just a poor attempt at being funny.
    If anybody with half a brain can answer my question in comment two, it would be greatly appreciated.

  5. 5
    wd400 says:

    … in addition to AVS’s question, does anyone want to tell me what definition of “epigenetics” is being used here? And how this is different that the theory of inheritence in “Darwin’s world”?

  6. 6
    Joe says:

    AVS:

    Can someone briefly explain to me how epigenetics refutes the theory of evolution?

    It’s epi-evolution.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    wd400, the question AVS asked is incoherent. It has no answer and requires no answer.

    Perhaps you would care to read AVS’s mind and tell us which theory of evolution he’s talking about.

    You do realize, don’t you, that modern evolutionary theory is actually composed of many different theories with no over-arching coherent unification.

    AVS, I am entirely serious. If you are going to argue evolutionary theory here you’d best be able to explain it.

  8. 8
    rockingwithhawking says:

    @AVS

    “Can someone briefly explain to me how epigenetics refutes the theory of evolution?”

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think the argument is necessarily against “the theory of evolution.” All the post said was, “It’s not Darwin’s world any more.”

  9. 9
    idnet.com.au says:

    The idea in the original article is that contra the prevailing orthodoxy, cells in the macrophage line are marked with heritable changes that enable them to make tuned responses to immunogenic attacks. This happens in acquired immunity in some cell lines using DNA modification. In this cell line epigenetic markers are used. Things are more complicated and seem much better designed than previously imagined. To those of us who accept real design in biology, these findings are in line with expectations. To those who believe that designing processes are unintelligent these are just more mechanisms that require an “evolutionary story”.

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