After being infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus, our immune system begins a dramatic war in the upper and then the lower respiratory tract. Usually it ends in victory, but unfortunately sometimes also collects fatalities. 80% of infected people have mild or even asymptomatic infection. In a dozen or so percent, the infection is severe, a few percent of those infected will die. Many sources estimate that up to 70% of the population will be infected. We can hope that this number will be smaller, but you should be prepared for a realistic scenario.
We do not yet know everything about the new virus and the details of the immune response, but below I will present a possible scenario.
After entering the body, the virus takes over human cells, replicates, and its copies infect more cells, causing the disease to spread. The virus enters the body through the nose, mouth or eyes, then attaches to cells in the airways that have ACE2 protein on the surface and infects them. Infected cells become become factories for the production of viruses. Our immune system begins a dramatic fight.
- Lymphocytes T
T-lymphocytes are the first to fight. Unlike B-lymphocytes – they do not produce antibodies, but directly attack and kill infected human cells to stop the infection. They are responsible for so-called cellular immune response. The letter T comes from the thymus – an organ in which T cells mature. T-lymphocytes destroy infected cells, secreting, among others, porphyrins and cytotoxins. They also call macrophages for help and stimulate the production of antibodies by B cells. Unfortunately, basic blood tests, i.e. smear morphology, do not show exactly how many T lymphocytes we have, they only provide information on the amount of all lymphocytes. You can do more advanced research and find out the number of T lymphocytes and their subclasses. We know that well-functioning mitochondria are needed for T lymphocytes to migrate to their destination, where the infection is and to differentiate. Mitochondria are our intracellular energy factories that are so needed during this brutal immune war. When T lymphocytes are in the lungs, they kill infected cells and everything that is inside of them. The inflammatory response and mobilization of the entire immune system begins. Unfortunately, the lungs are the worst place where this battle can happen.
In the meantime, antibodies appear. They are a Y-shaped proteins produced by B lymphocytes that stick to viruses.
Macrophages appear on the site, formed from transformed monocytes. Monocytes are probably known by each of us from the blood count test results. When they pass from blood to tissues, they are transformed into macrophages. They belong to the so-called scavenger cells (the word macrophage means big eater). They are responsible for phagocytosis, i.e. they eat viruses and cells infected with them. At the battlefield, these large cells also produce inflammatory cytokines: TNF alpha and interferon.
During this time, dead cells appear in the lungs and everything becomes inflamed. If a large volume of lungs is occupied by a disease, the amount of oxygen supplied to the body is limited. This is the mechanism of respiratory failure leading to death. So called cytokine storm is also possible, during which no regulatory mechanisms operate. At this stage, our own tissues are destroyed and the unregulated immune system becomes inefficient. A stimulated immune system can destroy healthy lung cells.
We can have a positive effect on many elements of the immune system, and thus reduce the impact of infection on our body. It all starts with the simplest things:
- stress reduction;
- physical activity;
- good sleep;
- avoiding stimulants;
- healthy diet.
We can add thoughtful supplementation to this:
- immune system support;
- mitochondria support;
- anti-inflammatory substances.
All factors described above can be diagnosed with tests available in our center, the results of which will help to develop a personalized procedure.
Dr. Chris Majdyło