They are saying pollen might be a perpetrator in respiratory infections, not as a result of the viruses hitch a experience on pollen grains and journey into our mouth, eyes, and nostril, however as a result of pollen appears to perturb our immune defenses, even when an individual is not allergic to it.
“Once we inhale pollen, they find yourself on our nasal mucosa and right here, they diminish the expression of genes which might be essential for the protection towards airborne viruses,” examine creator Stefanie Gilles, PhD, chair of environmental medication on the Technical College of Munich in Germany, stated in a press convention.
In a examine revealed final 12 months, Gilles discovered that mice uncovered to pollen made much less interferon and different protecting chemical alerts to the immune system. These then contaminated with a respiratory virus had extra virus of their our bodies in contrast with mice not uncovered to pollen. She appeared to see the identical impact in human volunteers.
The examine authors assume pollen could trigger the physique to drop its defenses towards the airborne virus that causes COVID-19, too.
“In case you’re in a crowded room and different persons are there which might be asymptomatic, and you have simply been inhaling pollen all day lengthy, likelihood is that you’ll be extra vulnerable to the virus,” says Lewis Ziska, PhD, a plant physiologist who research pollen, local weather change, and well being at Columbia College’s Mailman Faculty of Public Well being in New York Metropolis. “Having a masks is clearly actually essential in that regard.”
Masks do an awesome job of blocking pollen, so carrying one is much more essential when pollen and viruses are floating round, he says.
Different researchers, nonetheless, say that, whereas the examine raises some attention-grabbing questions, it could’t show that pollen is rising COVID-19 infections.
“Simply because two issues occur on the similar time does not imply that one causes the opposite,” says Martijn Hoogeveen, PhD, a professor of technical sciences and surroundings at The Open College within the Netherlands.
Hoogeveen’s current examine, revealed in Science of the Whole Surroundings, discovered that the arrival of pollen season within the Netherlands coincides with the tip of flu season, and that COVID-19 an infection peaks are inclined to observe an analogous sample — precisely the other of the PNAS examine.
One other preprint examine, which centered on the Chicago space, discovered the identical factor — as pollen climbs, flu circumstances drop. The researchers behind that examine assume pollen may very well compete with viruses in our airways, serving to to dam them from infecting our cells.