Thursday, February 2, 2017

Some people just don't get the flu...

Severe influenza can sometimes affect children who might seem to be completely healthy. Ciancanelli et al found that one way that this might be mediated, is through genetic differences. They found that heterozygous null mutation in IRF7, which is responsible for interferon regulatory factor 7, would lead to lack of interferon response in leukocytes and plasmacytoid dendritic cells upon influenza infection. 

Influenza is a negative sense, segmented virus from the Orthomyxoviridae family. It is usually a non-life-threatening illness, that is self-limiting and respiratory in nature. The pathogenesis in the cases that are life threatening, is unknown. 

Conducting genome sequencing of a 7-year-old girl who developed life-threatening influenza, allowed them to find, even with no other complications or co-morbidities, that the cause behind the seriousness of her influenza illness. They found a mutation in IRF7, which prevents the amplification of IFN production. Their findings suggest that IFN is necessary for effectively fighting off an influenza infection, especially in young children. This might also mean that severe influenza could be prevented and is possible to completely avoid due to one's genetic makeup.

Gianna Nino-Tapias (’18) 
Ciancanelli MJ et al. Life-threating influenza and impaired interferon amplification in human IIRF7 deficiency. Science (2015). 448-453.

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