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How can an intestinal system have an “innate memory”?


Increasingly, researchers must confront intelligence in nature, whatever they may choose to call it.

The innate immune system plays a crucial role in regulating host-microbe interactions, and especially in providing protection against pathogens that invade the mucosa. Using an intestinal infection model, scientists discovered that innate effector cells — group 3 innate lymphoid cells — act not only during the early stages of infection but can also be trained to develop an innate form of immunological memory that can protect the host during reinfection…

The gut mucosa harbors a complex defense system that allows it to combat pathogen infection while maintaining tolerance to commensal microbiota, which are essential for the normal bodily function. This constant surveillance is performed by the innate immune system, which provides early defense in the initial hours after infection. The adaptive immune system then develops a memory for the pathogens that it encounters by activating specific receptors expressed at the surface of B and T lymphocytes, thereby enabling the production of protective antibodies and inflammatory cytokines. Unlike the clearly established function of the adaptive system in long-term tolerance and protection, the role of the innate system in immune memory remains to be determined.

Institut Pasteur, “Discovery of an innate immunological memory in the intestine” at ScienceDaily (February 28, 2022)

So there’s a lot we still don’t know about how it works.

The paper is closed access.

It was easier to be a Darwinian naturalist when cells were just little blobs.

With so much information packed into nature, it is easy to see why some prominent researchers start talking like panpsychists, not naturalists. It’s the best they can do to be honest with what they actually know.

You may also wish to read: University of Chicago biochemist: All living cells are cognitive James Shapiro’s recent paper points out, with examples, that bacteria meet the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “cognitive.”
Future debates over origins of intelligence, consciousness, etc., may mainly feature panpsychists vs. theists rather than materialists vs. theists.

This isn't new. The complex intelligence of immunity has been understood in a basic way for 500 years, ever since the Circassians invented inoculation. Maybe the specifics in the gut mucosa are new, but again shouldn't be surprising. Every cell has some kind of immune system. polistra

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