Why an infection can make you more or less susceptible to recurrent infection
Whether good or bad, our experiences shape our reactions to situations. It’s true at a cellular level too. A bladder infection today could make you more or less susceptible to recurrent bladder infections in the future. Researchers investigate what tips the balance using mice. Mouse bladders were infected with bacteria either for the first time or after having a previous bladder infection. Infection causes immune cells to gather around infected cells lining the bladder’s interior, as captured here by researchers using scanning electron microscopy. Inflammation, kicked off by a molecule called TNFalpha, also occurs. In mice previously exposed to bladder infection, inflammation occurred more quickly. If the previous infection was chronic, inflammation was prolonged and harmful, worsening the current infection. But if the previous infection resolved itself, inflammation helped clear the current infection. Those first experiences of infection therefore rewire TNFalpha signalling to affect future infections.
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