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The Immune System May Affect A Person’s Social Life

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A person’s social life depends on a lot of factors, such as personality and efforts in caring for personal relationships. Researchers have found that an unlikely factor might also be contributing to this: the immune system.

In an unexpected discovery by scientists at the University of Virginia and the University of Massachusetts, the human body’s immune system was found to be a contributing factor to a person’s social well-being, reports

The researchers began an experiment in order to gather more information on the immune molecule called the “interferon gamma” and how it affects human behavior. The interferon gamma molecule is produced by the human body when it is exposed to pathogens, helping to trigger a proper, protective immune reaction.

The study used mice, and found that the animals that have had their interferon gamma production stopped though genetic engineering became both immunocompromised and affectedly less sociable. More importantly, the reduced social interaction proved not just to be an afterthought of the disturbance in the immune system. A reduction in socializing might actually be a way of protecting an organism from infections it can no longer fight off, according to the study.

These results add to a study last year that found certain blood vessels connected the brain and lymphatic system – a revolutionary research, as scientists had previously thought that the brain did not have anything to do with the immune system.

The study shows that it’s possible that people who have certain social disorders are actually afflicted by immune system deficiencies, and that treatment of these psychological problems begins with addressing any problems with the immune system.

The results are expected to help mental health professionals in treating people with social behavior problems.

For now, the relationship between the brain and the immune system poses more questions than answers, and the hope is that further research will soon be able to clarify all of these concerns.

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