Children’s nasal mucosa can inhibit better SARS-CoV-2 infections than adults, which one study says could explain why younger people had lower infection rates and milder symptoms than previous variants.
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Researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia noted that the finding could be one of the reasons why children’s immune responses have so far been shown to be more effective at preventing and fighting COVID-19.
With the Omicron variant, however, the trend is much less pronounced, it said.
“Children have a lower rate of COVID-19 infection and milder symptoms than adults, but the reasons for this were unknown,” said UQ’s Kirsty Short.
“We have shown that children’s nasal mucosa has more influence.flammable response to the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 than adult noses,” Short said. However, the study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, found that the Omicron variant is different.
The research team exposed the samples of nasal mucosa cells from 23 healthy children and 15 healthy adults to SARS-CoV-2.
The results showed that the virus replicated less efficiently in the children nasal cells, as well as an increased antiviral response.
“It could be an adaptation to the increasing threat of ‘foreign invaders’ such as viruses or bacteria observed in childhood,” Short said.
“It’s also possible that increased exposure to these threats in childhood ‘trains’ the nasal mucosa in children to develop a stronger pro-inflammatory response,” she said. Alternatively, the researchers said, metabolic differences between children and adults could alter how virus-fighting genes are expressed.
They found out that Delta COVID-19 Variant was significantly less likely to replicate in the nasal cells of children compared to adults.
With the Omicron variant, however, the effect was significantly smaller.
“Taken together, this shows that children’s nasal mucosa supports less infection and replication of the ancestral SARS-CoV-2, but this could yet change.” virus develops”,
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