T cell Memory May Protect Us From Covid-19 + How to Boost T cell Immunity

Thursday, August 20th, 2020
Covid 19 has been called a novel coronavirus, which has elicited a wide misconception that we have no immunity against it. Some studies indicate otherwise due to robust crossover immunity to other coronavirus varieties. What are the statistics? How do you ensure robust T cell immunity and memory?

There is a common misconception concerning the novel coronavirus caused by SARS-COV-2.

The media has sensationalized the news concerning Covid-19 but whats true and what is not? The virus has hit some people hard and they have been sick for months, while others test positive and barely have a sniffle. So what gives? Whats going on with Russian roulette coronavirus? I’m here to explain.

A rash of recent studies done this summer seek to shed light on the mystery of how some people are affected more drastically than others.

Science has been telling us for years that to achieve a safe level or HERD IMMUNITY, in a population of an acute disease, 60-70% of the population must have been affected. New research indicates that it may be, in fact, 10-20% for coronavirus. This is due to cross reactivity among all Coronaviruses {not just Covid}, as it is one virus that causes the common cold. This, plus our God given T cell immunity. Remember antibodies may only last a few months, but T cell immunity seems to remain protective for years.

What are T cells and how do they work?

T cells are a specialized cell within your white blood cells, or soldier cells. There are many types like T helper, T killer, memory or even Treg cells. For the purpose of this post, just know that T cells are some of the first responders of the innate immune system. They’re actually necessary in triggering the adaptive immune system to make antibodies later. However, they have the ability to recognize & kill viruses or cancer without the help of readymade antibodies. This is what’s happening some in Covid-19 due to robust crossover immunity. Here are some new studies exemplifying these findings.

1. A study this year in 2020 took 23 SARS patients from 2003 & tested their blood. ALL 23 subjects had sustained T cell immunity against SARS 17 years later–NOT antibodies! But they still had protection through T cell remembrance! Moreover, in this same study, ALL SUBJECTS had robust cross over immunity to SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 because they had SARS. ALL OF THEM. What is even more promising is that within that same study, scientists tested 37 subjects who had never had SARS or Covid-19 (their serology was tested beforehand & all were negative) and OVER 50% HAD PROTECTIVE T CELLS THAT RECOGNIZED COVID-19, despite never being exposed to this novel #virus.

2. In a study from April 2020 published in MedRxiv, researchers took 68 healthy subjects who had never been exposed to SARS-COV-2 & tested their serology. 35% of them had T cell recognition to COVID-19 despite never being exposed to the virus.

3. Finally, similar findings were confirmed again in the journal Cell in June 2020, researchers found 40-60% of those NEVER EXPOSED to COVID-19 had T cell remembrance to the #virus and to SARS-COV-2, the strain that causes the disease The authors hypothesize that crossover immunity came from the common cold coronaviruses. As I mentioned early, other varieties of the coronavirus can also cause the common cold. Basically the common cold has prepared your body for this virus.

This crossover immunity theory postulates why so many people that are younger seem asymptomatic when testing positive. It is likely that their T cells recognized the virus and mounted an adequate immune response before symptoms kicked in.

The Challenges

Obviously there are a couple of concerns here. First, as you can see the studies estimate that 40-60% of people have T cell memory against the virus so that leaves the rest of the population at risk. For simplicity, lets say 50% are unprotected. In the regions hit hardest by Covid such as NYC or Madrid, deaths peaked at around 10-20% for those infected. If you add the 50% who already have T cell immunity to that 10-20% of newly infected, you get the quoted 60-70% for herd immunity that epidemiologists are looking for to predict herd immunity. This explains the success of Sweden. They have reached herd immunity already. That still leaves quite a few people unexposed however.

So where does the problem lie here? The problem is that T cell efficacy decreases as we age or become metabolically diseased. If you are immunocompromised, on a medication that affects T cell differentiation or are elderly, your risk is most likely higher as studies do confirm that T cells naturally wane as we age. This makes sense as the elderly and immunocompromised are the ones hit the hardest by the virus. Ask your doc about your risk & what you can do to improve immune health.

Mitochondrial Health

When we encounter a stressor in the body like an infection, pesticide exposure, or hormone disrupter, the endoplasmic reticulum inside our cells stimulates the mitochondria to produce reactive oxygen species, which are unstable free radicals possessing an unpaired electron that can react freely with other molecules, causing damage to DNA. Formation of reactive oxygen species from our toxic world steals oxygen molecules away from needed reactions in the Krebs cycle inside mitochondrion, rendering them unable to make ATP, aka cellular energy. The inability to make cellular energy is a LEADING underlying cause for SO MANY DISEASES and it absolutely affects our systemic IMMUNE FUNCTION.

Mitochondrial damage occurs due to certain medications like antibiotics (fluoroquinolones), selective serotonin reuptake inhibiors (SSRIs), HAART (HIV medication), longterm infections, and corporate toxins like petroleum products, plastics, and pesticides. Remember that mitochondria do contain their own DNA, that is inherited only from your maternal lineage. Yes, you got it from your mama.

So improving mitochondria function (yes its possible) improves immunity & T cell function since this is the body’s leading way of making all ENERGY TO FIGHT ANYTHING. Mitochondria improve immune function in a number of ways, namely activating the inflammatory response, improving cellular communication, and activating signaling proteins that help to regulate the body’s innate response to viruses. How do you improve T cell, immune & mitochondria function as they can’t really be separated?

Here are some natural suggestions—which ALL indirectly looking to improve mitochondrial function, the powerhouse organelle in every cell except red blood cells.

1. Medicinal mushrooms 🍄: AHCC, for its ability to improve dendritic cells, who present antigens to T cells! They are the immune system first responders and alert T cells into setting off the cytokine cascade, chemical messengers which alert our cells that there is a problem aat hand. Look into shiitake, turkey tail, Agaricus Blazeii & reishi mushroom.

2. Selenium, found in highest amounts in Brazil nuts, is an antioxidant that is shown in studies to improve immune function in studies. It is needed in making glutathione & helps neutralize reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species aren’t all bad. In fact its thought that they even play a role in killing pathogens. The problem is the level of reactive oxygen species we are bombarded with all day. Our systems can and do get overwhelmed.

3.  In studies, exercise elicits an increase in the numbers of circulating T cells & lymphocyte subsets. It also lowers inflammatory cytokines that contribute to aging. Exercise also boosts the function of our mitochondria. Since sunlight also boosts mitochondria, I often find it helpful to exercise in the early morning sunlight.

4. Some nutrients and minerals that have been studied for immune health and T cell function include zinc, quercertin, green tea, resveratrol and echinacea. All improve T cell function and cytokine regulation.

5. Time restricted intermittent fasting frees up energy, nearly 40% of it, so that your body can use it for immune strength or energy production (like trolling for pathogens). According to a recent Harvard study, intermittent fasting may increase your lifespan by manipulating your mitochondrial health. Some studies found an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis and there was an increase in Sirt3, which modulates the activities of different mitochondrial enzymes. As we age our mitochondria lose the ability to make ATP so this gives our body the ability to use energy to make more energy rather than using it for digestion.

6. Mitigate EMF exposure: a multitude of studies have shown that radiation & EMF cause reactive oxygen species that damage DNA. Reactive oxygen species prevent our mitochondria from making effective energy. Check out my blog here for info on how to protect yourself! I also recommend Rayonex over at www.sustainablehealthsolutions.com and use code Dr.Jess for a discount until the end of August!

7. Organ meats. Yes our indigenous ancestors likely knew more than we give them credit for. There was a reason they ate glands from animals. Indulging in beef heart heals your heart & mitochondria by providing B vitamins and CoQ10. Liver meat from any animal has some of the highest vitamin A, which protects against the measles virus. It also has hefty amounts of bioavailable B vitamins, iron, K2, selenium & choline-all helpful for mitochondria. It is one of the healthiest foods in terms of nutrient density and also provides amino acids, the building blocks for mitochondrial health in terms of generating energy for our muscles.

It turns out, this nourishing tradition is backed by science… “Radioisotope labeling studies in animals have shown conclusively that, when eaten, organs and glands selectively travel to the corresponding organs and glands in high concentrations. This research, done at the University of Scotland in Edinburgh, lends credence to the ancient practice of eating animal organs to help ensure health in one’s corresponding organs…” – Dr. Ron Schmid, ND. Our early ancestors knew this, which is why their traditional diets included the frequent and nourishing consumption of nose-to-tail organ meats. More on organ meats coming soon on the blog!

Most of these suggestions work on the cellular level to improve immunity by working on mitochondrial health and communication, energy production and T cell response/memory.

What does all this tell me?

It tells me that our bodies are inherently gifted, not inherently flawed. It tells me not everyone needs a Covid 19 vaccine. It  begs the question-why is the media SILENT on this research?

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REFERENCES:

  • Le Bert, N., Tan, A.T., Kunasegaran, K. et al. SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity in cases of COVID-19 and SARS, and uninfected controls. Nature 584, 457–462 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2550-z. Web
  • Braun, J., Loyal, L., Frentsch, M. et al. SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells in healthy donors and patients with COVID-19. Nature (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2598-9 Web
  • Grifoni, Alba et al. Targets of T cell Responses to SARS-Cov-2 Coronaviruses in Humans with Covid-19 Disease and In Unexposed Individuals. Cell; Volume 181, Issue 7, 1489-1501. e1. Web
  • ”Mitochondria – Turning on the Powerhouse.” Rader’s Biology4Kids, Andrew Rader Studios, n.d. Web
  • Macdonald, Anna. “5 Roles Mitochondria Play in Cells.” Immunity & Microbiology from Technology Networks, 6 Jun 2017. Web
  • Ding, WX, and Yin, XM. “Mitophagy: Mechanisms, Pathophysiological Roles, and Analysis. Biol Chem., vol. 393, no. 7, Jul 2012. Web
  • Zimmer, Katarina. “Mitochondria Play an Unexpected Role in Killing Bacteria.” The Scientist, 1 Jan 2019. Web
  • Terakawa N, Matsui Y, Satoi S, Yanagimoto H, Takahashi K, Yamamoto T, Yamao J, Takai S, Kwon AH, Kamiyama Y. Immunological effect of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) in healthy volunteers: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(5):643-51. Web
  • Sander R. Exercise boosts immune response. Nurs Older People. 2012;24(6):11. doi:10.7748/nop.24.6.11.s11 Web
  • Carlson BA, Yoo MH, Shrimali RK, et al. Role of selenium-containing proteins in T-cell and macrophage function. Proc Nutr Soc. 2010;69(3):300-310. doi:10.1017/S002966511000176X Web
  • De Cabo R and Mattson MP. Effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease. New England Journal of Medicine. 2019;381(26):2541-2551. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1905136.
  • Di Ciaula A. Towards 5G communication systems: Are there health implications? Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2018 Apr;221(3):367-375. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.01.011. Epub 2018 Feb 2. Review. PubMed PMID: 29402696.

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