#Measles virus #infection diminishes preexisting #antibodies that offer #protection from other #pathogens (Science, abstract)

[Source: Science, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Measles virus infection diminishes preexisting antibodies that offer protection from other pathogens

Michael J. Mina1,2,3,*,†, Tomasz Kula1,2, Yumei Leng1, Mamie Li2, Rory D. de Vries4, Mikael Knip5,6, Heli Siljander5,6, Marian Rewers7, David F. Choy8, Mark S. Wilson8, H. Benjamin Larman9, Ashley N. Nelson10,‡, Diane E. Griffin10, Rik L. de Swart4, Stephen J. Elledge1,2,11,†

1 Division of Genetics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 2 Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 3 Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 4 Department of Viroscience, Postgraduate School of Molecular Medicine, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, 3015 CN, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 5 Children’s Hospital, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, 00290 Helsinki, Finland. 6 Research Program for Clinical and Molecular Metabolism, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland. 7 Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO 80045, USA. 8 Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA. 9 Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA. 10 W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. 11 Program in Virology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

†Corresponding author. Email: selledge@genetics.med.harvard.edu (S.J.E.); mmina@hsph.harvard.edu (M.J.M.)

* Present address: Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

‡ Present address: Human Vaccine Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.

Science  01 Nov 2019: Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pp. 599-606 / DOI: 10.1126/science.aay6485


The toll of measles on the immune system

Many of the deaths attributable to measles virus are caused by secondary infections because the virus infects and functionally impairs immune cells. Whether measles infection causes long-term damage to immune memory has been unclear. This question has become increasingly important given the resurgence in measles epidemics worldwide. Using a blood test called VirScan, Mina et al. comprehensively analyzed the antibody repertoire in children before and after natural infection with measles virus as well as in children before and after measles vaccination. They found that measles infection can greatly diminish previously acquired immune memory, potentially leaving individuals at risk for infection by other pathogens. These adverse effects on the immune system were not seen in vaccinated children.

Science, this issue p. 599



Measles virus is directly responsible for more than 100,000 deaths yearly. Epidemiological studies have associated measles with increased morbidity and mortality for years after infection, but the reasons why are poorly understood. Measles virus infects immune cells, causing acute immune suppression. To identify and quantify long-term effects of measles on the immune system, we used VirScan, an assay that tracks antibodies to thousands of pathogen epitopes in blood. We studied 77 unvaccinated children before and 2 months after natural measles virus infection. Measles caused elimination of 11 to 73% of the antibody repertoire across individuals. Recovery of antibodies was detected after natural reexposure to pathogens. Notably, these immune system effects were not observed in infants vaccinated against MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), but were confirmed in measles-infected macaques. The reduction in humoral immune memory after measles infection generates potential vulnerability to future infections, underscoring the need for widespread vaccination.

Keywords: Measles; Immunopathology.


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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.