The Importance of Mucosal Immunity: More Than Just Protection From Infection

Mucosal Immune System

When it comes to Autism, there are a lot of big words floating around. From Mercury to Mucosal Immunity and Hemoglobin levels to Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments (HBOT), things can get pretty overwhelming. We’ve covered the dangers of Mercury, and the vast improvements and advancements that the HBOT treatment has received. We haven’t yet discussed Mucosal Immunity and its importance, and in it’s own right, it serves a huge role in the prevention of infection.

Mucosal Immune System: The Need To Know Basics:

The Mucosal Immune System, much like it sounds (notice the closeness to “Mucous”), is one of the parts of the overall human immune system. The responsibility of the Mucosal Immune System, is to prevent  various infectious microbes from entering the mucous membranes. It basically protects the mucous membrane from infection. Additionally, it protects the body or balances it when microorganisms and other foreign materials enter the body.

Since a healthy mucosal immune system aids in the prevention of infection, it’s relatively obvious the reasons for its necessity, especially in the Autistic body that is typically more susceptible to infection.

How The Mucosal Immune System Works: In Easy-To-Understand Terms:

The beginning of the healthy, infection-free body starts in the immune system. The immune system itself is protected by its own barrier. In the mucosal immune system, this barrier is appropriately called the Mucosal Barrier. The Mucosal barrier is made up of mucous. A thick layer of mucous can prevent external infections from entering the body and infecting it.

Typically, when a suspected infection attempts to enter the Mucosal system, specific antibody production occurs. They’re on their mark, and ready for attack mode. As the infection fights back and if it penetrates the barrier, another backup immune system becomes involved, the humoral system.

As the infection continues to affect the mucosal barrier, antigens make their way into the body’s general circulation and inflammation and allergy can occur. Additionally if any of three particular antibodies are increased (IgA, IgM, or IgC), when a BHD test is ran, this can indicate an overload of yeast, dietary proteins, and aerobic bacteria. In most cases, this is a sure sign of a leaky gut syndrome.

If there is no intervention at this point and the bodies’ levels of antibodies aren’t adjusted, the mucosal immune system can actually begin to weaken, and eventually shut down. The mucosal immune system’s backup is the humoral immune system.

Imagine, if you will, a scenario where there is a boss and a secretary. The boss’ (the mucosal immune system) is built to handle tough situations (infections) and ward off trouble. Sometimes, there will be situations in which the secretary (humoral immune system) needs to hop in and help a bit. This is fine. In moderation. If the boss completely stops working, all of the work ends up on the secretary’s lap. This is a sure fire way to cause overload and burnout. Just as a secretary can burnout from too much work that isn’t being taken care of by the front end, so can the humoral immune system from a non-functioning mucosal immune system.

Mucosal Immune System and Vaccines

The mucosal immune system is also being researched due to its significant role in the human immune system. Because of its major function and “front-line status”, researchers are taking a close look at it’s role in vaccines, particularly AIDS and allergies.

The reason for this intense research, according to Nature.com, is that “using a mucosal route of vaccination is that most infections affect or start from a mucosal surface, and that in these infections, topical application of a vaccine is often required to induce a protective immune response.”

In simpler terms: many infections such as AIDS, respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal infections begin in the mecosal region of the immune system, so a direct immunization to that specific area seems completely necessary to prevent the replication of these viruses.

Okay, so it’s a good idea, and seems like it should work, why aren’t there a variety of mucosal immunizations available?

As essential as these vaccines seem, and quite frankly are, it has proven difficult to stimulate positive responses from the mucosal immune system. According to Nature.com, as of 2005, only half dozen of the approved vaccines for humans are administered mucosally.