© Prüß, Thiriot, Schwab

Immune paralysis

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Lymph nodes are small, egg-shaped organs which serve as filter stations and play an essential role in our immune system. They swell in the event of an illness such as influenza, which is a sign that our immune system is active. However, if a spinal cord injury occurs, often the opposite happens. The lymph nodes shrink and lose their beneficial function, because the spinal cord injury triggers an immunodeficiency. As a consequence of this, the patients are more prone to infections and their functional recovery is impaired. In addition, there’s a higher risk of contracting pneumonia. Scientists have now discovered that the cause of this immunodeficiency is an impaired regulation within the adrenals and that the entire immune system, even above the paralysis level, is affected.

Researchers: Dr Harald Prü., Professor Dr Jan Schwab, et al.
Institutes: Charité Berlin, Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Centre, et al.
Status: Work in progress