Breaking News
March 24, 2018 - Waning Vaccine Protection May Be Driving Rise in U.S. Mumps Cases
March 24, 2018 - Folic Acid in Utero Tied to Food Allergy Risk
March 24, 2018 - Trial shows safety of drugs for irregular heartbeat patients undergoing treatment
March 24, 2018 - Penn State psychologists shed light on false memories in older adults
March 24, 2018 - Patients who self-discharge should be viewed more positively, say researchers
March 24, 2018 - Wearable brain scanner enables brain imaging whilst moving
March 24, 2018 - Trump Signs $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill, Averts Shutdown
March 24, 2018 - Two drugs prevent heart problems in breast cancer patients
March 24, 2018 - Research provides better understanding of how some cancer cells resist treatment
March 24, 2018 - Certain nutrients found in food may help reduce symptoms of psychotic illness
March 24, 2018 - AbbVie Announces Positive Topline Results from Second Phase 3 Study Evaluating Investigational Elagolix in Women with Uterine Fibroids
March 24, 2018 - AHRQ Is in Trouble | Medpage Today
March 24, 2018 - Could a pap test spot more than just cervical cancer?
March 24, 2018 - Men have greater hospital readmission risk following firearm injury, study shows
March 24, 2018 - Pediatric psychologist shares 11 warning signs of childhood depression
March 24, 2018 - OncoBreak: ‘I Was Normal Once’; Ending Cervical Cancer; Mammo Controversy
March 24, 2018 - Gum Disease by the Numbers
March 24, 2018 - Studies show tool can identify individual needs, supports to help youths with autism, intellectual disabilities
March 24, 2018 - Study reveals cause of extreme nausea in pregnancy
March 24, 2018 - New findings highlight need to reconsider cervical cancer screening guidelines
March 24, 2018 - Smartwatch App Might Help Detect A-Fib
March 24, 2018 - TAVR Reasonable for Low-Flow, Low-Gradient Aortic Stenosis
March 24, 2018 - Kids with severe brain injuries may develop ADHD: study
March 24, 2018 - Researchers explore ways to help older adults taper off and stop using sedatives
March 24, 2018 - Back pain being mismanaged globally
March 24, 2018 - Fingerprint test accurately and noninvasively detects heroin, cocaine users
March 24, 2018 - Leading experts to promote cardiovascular health at EuroPrevent 2018
March 24, 2018 - A Role for Rituximab in Lupus?
March 24, 2018 - New osteoarthritis genes discovered
March 24, 2018 - Maternal intake of DHA supplement linked to higher fat-free body mass in children
March 24, 2018 - Royal College of Pathologists‘ bulletin provides summary of Tissue Handling Workshop
March 24, 2018 - Maternal alcohol use early in pregnancy may be risk factor for infant abdominal malformation
March 24, 2018 - Savara Initiates Phase 2a Clinical Study of Molgradex for the Treatment of NTM Lung Infection
March 24, 2018 - Accelerated WBI Should be the Norm for Most Breast Cancers
March 24, 2018 - Experts seek to standardize treatments for childhood rheumatic diseases
March 24, 2018 - Foil-based measuring chip rapidly detects Legionella
March 24, 2018 - Bariatric surgery linked to positive outcomes in very obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes
March 24, 2018 - Obesity and severe obesity continue to rise among U.S. adults
March 24, 2018 - Missed hospital appointments increase after spring clock change in the UK
March 24, 2018 - Researchers explore ways to manage and prevent falls in older adults with dementia
March 24, 2018 - Are there risks from secondhand marijuana smoke? Early science says yes.
March 24, 2018 - NUST MISIS researchers produce elastic metal rods for scoliosis treatment
March 24, 2018 - New University of Bath project seeks to make injections safer
March 24, 2018 - Higher-dose RT does not improve survival but reduces recurrence risk for prostate cancer patients
March 24, 2018 - Researchers examine link between knee pain and depression in older adults
March 24, 2018 - FDA Alert: BD Vacutainer Blood Collection Tubes by Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD): Class I Recall
March 24, 2018 - Daytime Sleepiness Linked to Amyloid Accumulation Without Dementia
March 24, 2018 - Energy storehouses in the brain may be source of Alzheimer’s, targets of new therapy
March 24, 2018 - Praising people with autism shows promise for producing more exercise
March 24, 2018 - Using harmless red or infrared light to diagnose breast cancer
March 24, 2018 - Clash over abortion hobbles a health bill. Again. Here’s how.
March 23, 2018 - Virtual nature environment could be new way to recover from stress
March 23, 2018 - New study identifies key cellular mechanisms behind vascular aging in mice
March 23, 2018 - Nightmares Common Among U.S. Troops, But Seldom Reported
March 23, 2018 - Another Record Low for Tuberculosis in U.S.
March 23, 2018 - Changes in the eye connected to a decline in memory
March 23, 2018 - Radiologist creates dramatic teaching tool using power of VR
March 23, 2018 - Grilled meat could be raising the risk of hypertension finds study
March 23, 2018 - Mutations found in bassoon gene may help explain cause of rare brain disorder
March 23, 2018 - Childhood Brain Injuries May be Linked to ADHD Years Later
March 23, 2018 - Why treating addiction with medication should be carefully considered
March 23, 2018 - Researchers make key discovery about cellular pathway linked to myriad of diseases
March 23, 2018 - Researchers uncover cause of rare childhood neurodegenerative disease
March 23, 2018 - Measles infection in early childhood could contribute to later COPD
March 23, 2018 - Opioid painkiller is top prescription in 11 states
March 23, 2018 - Sienna Biopharmaceuticals Announces First Patient Dosed In Proof-of-Concept Trial of Topical By Design™ JAK Inhibitor SNA-125 for Atopic Dermatitis
March 23, 2018 - In Teen Girls, Neural Patterns May Drive Emotional Resilience
March 23, 2018 - Gene-based test for urine detects, monitors bladder cancer
March 23, 2018 - BD to introduce new digital solution for IV chemotherapy administration process at EAHP 2018
March 23, 2018 - New computational method helps to identify tumor cell mutations with greater accuracy
March 23, 2018 - Researchers identify potential obesity treatment in freezing hunger-signaling nerve
March 23, 2018 - Wales participates in the 100,000 Genomes Project
March 23, 2018 - 24-Hr Paging Cuts ED Visits for Kids with Endocrine Issues
March 23, 2018 - The brain learns completely differently than we’ve assumed since the 20th century
March 23, 2018 - Less nutritious diet mainly contributes to Type 2 diabetes among U.S.-based South Asians
March 23, 2018 - Stony Brook Medicine expert provides tips for healthy diet to decrease cancer risk
March 23, 2018 - New findings could have revolutionary impact on quality of life of older people
March 23, 2018 - Restoring enzyme may help reverse effects of vascular aging, study shows
March 23, 2018 - Protein profiling reveals new prostate cancer mechanisms
March 23, 2018 - Depression may be linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation
Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term

Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Prof. Dr. Eicke Latz and Dr. Anette Christ from the Institute for Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn investigated this question in a study. Credit: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

The immune system reacts similarly to a high fat and high calorie diet as to a bacterial infection. This is shown by a recent study led by the University of Bonn. Particularly disturbing: Unhealthy food seems to make the body’s defenses more aggressive in the long term. Even long after switching to a healthy diet, inflammation toward innate immune stimulation is more pronounced. These long-term changes may be involved in the development of arteriosclerosis and diabetes, diseases linked to Western diet consumption. The results will be published in the journal Cell.

The scientists placed mice for a month on a so-called “Western diet”: high in fat, high in sugar, and low in fiber. The animals consequently developed a strong inflammatory response throughout the body, almost like after infection with dangerous bacteria. “The unhealthy diet led to an unexpected increase in the number of certain immune cells in the blood of the mice, especially granulocytes and monocytes. This was an indication for an involvement of immune cell progenitors in the bone marrow,” Anette Christ, postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn explains. To better understand these unexpected findings, bone marrow progenitors for major immune cell types were isolated from mice fed a Western diet or healthy control diet and a systematic analysis of their function and activation state was performed.

“Genomic studies did, in fact, show that the Western diet had activated a large number of genes in the progenitor cells. The genes affected included those responsible for proliferation and maturation,” explains Prof. Dr. Joachim Schultze from the Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) at the University of Bonn and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). Fast food thus causes the body to quickly recruit a huge and powerful army. When the researchers offered the rodents their typical cereal diet for another four weeks, the acute inflammation disappeared. What did not disappear was the genetic reprogramming of the immune cells and their precursors: Even after these four weeks, many of the genes that had been switched on during the fast food phase were still active.

“Fast food sensor” in the immune cells

“It has only recently been discovered that the innate immune system has a form of memory,” explains Prof. Dr. Eicke Latz, Director of the Institute for Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn and scientist at the DZNE. “After an infection, the body’s defenses remain in a kind of alarm state, so that they can respond more quickly to a new attack.” Experts call this “innate immune training.” In the mice, this process was not triggered by a bacterium, but by an unhealthy diet.

The scientists were further able to identify the responsible “fast food sensor” in immune cells. They examined blood cells from 120 subjects. In some of the subjects, the innate immune system showed a particularly strong training effect. In these subjects, the researchers found genetic evidence of the involvement of a so-called inflammasome. Inflammasomes are key intracellular signaling complexes that recognize infectious agents and other harmful substances and subsequently release highly inflammatory messengers. How exactly the NLRP3 inflammasome recognizes the exposure of the body to Western type diets remains to be determined.

Interestingly, in addition to the acute inflammatory response, this also has long-term consequences for the immune system’s responses: The activation by Western diet changes the way in which the genetic information is packaged. The genetic material is stored in the DNA and each cell contains several DNA strands, which together are about two meters long. However, they are typically wrapped around certain proteins in the nucleus and thus many genes in the DNA cannot be read as they are simply too inaccessible.

Unhealthy eating causes some of these normally hidden pieces of DNA to unwind, similar to a loop hanging out of a ball of wool. This area of the genetic material can then be read much easier as long as this temporary unwrapping remains active. Scientists call these phenomena epigenetic changes. “The inflammasome triggers such epigenetic changes,” explains Dr. Latz. “The immune system consequently reacts even to small stimuli with stronger inflammatory responses.”

Dramatic consequences for health

These inflammatory responses can in turn accelerate the development of vascular diseases or type 2 diabetes. In arteriosclerosis for example, the typical vascular deposits, the plaques, consist largely of lipids and immune cells. The inflammatory reaction contributes directly to their growth, because newly activated immune cells constantly migrate into the altered vessel walls. When the plaques grow too large, they can burst, leading to blood clotting and are carried away by the bloodstream and can clog vessels. Possible consequences: Stroke or heart attack.

Wrong nutrition can thus have dramatic consequences. In recent centuries, average life expectancy has steadily increased in Western countries. This trend is currently being broken for the first time: Individuals born today will live on average shorter lives than their parents. Unhealthy diets and too little exercise likely play a decisive role in this.

“These findings therefore have important societal relevance,” explains Latz. “The foundations of a healthy diet need to become a much more prominent part of education than they are at present. Only in this way can we immunize children at an early stage against the temptations of the food industry. Children have a choice of what they eat every day. We should enable them to make conscious decisions regarding their dietary habits.”

Explore further:
Inflammation drives progression of Alzheimer’s

More information:
Anette Christ et al, Western Diet Triggers NLRP3-Dependent Innate Immune Reprogramming, Cell (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.013

Journal reference:

Provided by:
University of Bonn

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles