Corona: strong immune system protects children

Although children can also become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and pass on the disease, severe corona courses are rare in children and adolescents. Experts provide the reason: your immune system in the upper respiratory tract is more active than in adults.

In order to find the cause of the improved  immune system  in children and adolescents, experts compared samples of the upper respiratory tract, especially the  nasal mucosa , from 42 children and 44 adults.

Corona in children: the immune system is significantly more active

A total of 268,745 cells from the subjects were analyzed. It turned out that the immune and epithelial cells of the nasal mucosa of healthy children were already   armed for the fight against SARS-CoV-2 .

The children’s early warning system was more active overall and recognized the disease faster than the adult’s immune system. This is how it works: for the immune system to react quickly, so-called pattern recognition receptors must be activated. These recognize the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the virus, i.e. genetic material – the immune system then produces special interferons, a certain type of protein, which are directed against the disease.

In adults, on the other hand, the virus usually causes a surprise effect, which results in a lower immune response against SARS-CoV-2. As a result, the virus can multiply more easily in the cell.

A laboratory study of infected lung epithelial cells showed that the number of pattern recognition receptors in particular determines the speed of the immune response and, as a result, how quickly infected cells can react to an infection.

The higher number of interferon cells produced could therefore be a reason for the lower viral load in the first few days of infection in children.

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