Measles-associated immune memory loss

Long-term measles-induced immunomodulation increases overall childhood infectious disease mortality
Science 8 May 2015: Vol. 348  no. 6235  pp. 694-699
Michael J. Mina, et al.
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6235/694.abstract

Immunosuppression after measles is known to predispose people to opportunistic infections for a period of several weeks to months. Using population-level data, we show that measles has a more prolonged effect on host resistance, extending over 2 to 3 years. We find that nonmeasles infectious disease mortality in high-income countries is tightly coupled to measles incidence at this lag, in both the pre- and post-vaccine eras. We conclude that long-term immunologic sequelae of measles drive interannual fluctuations in nonmeasles deaths. This is consistent with recent experimental work that attributes the immunosuppressive effects of measles to depletion of B and T lymphocytes. Our data provide an explanation for the long-term benefits of measles vaccination in preventing all-cause infectious disease. By preventing measles-associated immune memory loss, vaccination protects polymicrobial herd immunity.

journalistic version:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/05/07/404963436/scientists-crack-a-50-year-old-mystery-about-the-measles-vaccine

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