A recent study in mice has suggested that strong skeletal muscles might help improve the immune system performance. This is especially important in people with serious chronic illnesses, which could weaken the system.
Moreover, skeletal muscles could fight against cachexia. This is the process in which fat and muscle are washed away due to chronic health issues.
The study is carried out by researchers at the German Cancer Research Center and published in the Science Advances journal. It lays the basic foundation for further research in humans.
According to scientists, cachexia often follows serious chronic conditions like cancer.
It can be the main cause of deaths in up to a third of people with cancer. In addition, the condition might affect those with other severe illnesses, such as heart failure, kidney diseases, and AIDS.
Cachexia might happen when the body tries to fight illness by taking energy from fat and muscle. Nevertheless, the precise cause is still mostly unclear.
In spite of cachexia’s association with morality, scientists have yet to develop an effective treatment option.
Also, severe chronic illness can lead to a weaker immune system. This is caused by the exhaustion of the T cells, which play a key role in the response of the immune system to disease. T cells are involved in the loss of muscle mass as well.
The main goal of the study is to find out the relationship between T cells, skeletal muscle mass, and cachexia. To do this, they examined the skeletal muscle’s gene expression in mice, which were transmitted with the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus.
The results suggested a link between T cell exhaustion and muscle mass loss. This subsequently implicates the strength of the immune system.
In the study, those mice with more muscle mass could be able to cope with chronic viral illnesses better than those with weakened muscles. However, further research is needed in the future to know whether the findings can be applied to humans.
While the research’s main focus is the skeletal muscle, cachexia is also a cause of wasting away fat tissue. Therefore, scientists acknowledge that more studies would help find out a similar link between the protection of T cells and fat tissue.
Also, it is still unknown how those precursors of T cells are formed in skeletal muscle mass.
When these questions are answered properly, researchers can hope for more effective therapies that particularly treat cachexia in patients.