Scientists at Duke University have been studying how other mammals like bats are seemingly unaffected by Coronaviruses (including SARS-COV).
When infected by the same viruses that lands humans in the ICU on a ventilator, bats mount an early and robust initial immune response but don’t have the ongoing, exaggerated, pro-inflammatory response that’s often fatal to us.
Translation: bats have a unique way to throttle down their immunity gas-pedal after an initial burst.
In humans with severe COVID-19 illness, the characteristic cytokine storm (exaggerated, pro-inflammatory response) is thought to be the driving factor behind respiratory and organ failure leading to poor outcomes and non-survival.
Here’s two reasons why should you care about this animal research:
- The immunological switch bats use to tame their inflammation is the NRLP3 inflammasome. This might sound familiar to you as ketones (BHB) have been shown to inhibit this signaling up.
- The interferon response (the early initial immune burst that may help bats) is reduced in those with nutrient deficiencies (namely vitamin A and D) and in type II diabetes. [This is one of the reasons behind the recent push for vitamin A and D.]
P.S. I’m in now way suggesting the ketogenic diet or ketones are a cure or therapy for COVID-19, but wanted to use this as a teaching moment to help you better understand how your diet affects ongoing, chronic inflammation.
Banerjee A, Baker ML, Kulcsar K, Misra V, Plowright R, Mossman K. Novel Insights Into Immune Systems of Bats. Front Immunol. 2020;11:307-315. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2020.00026.
Bowman TA, Goonewardene IM, Pasatiempo AMG, Ross AC, Taylor CE. Vitamin A Deficiency Decreases Natural Killer Cell Activity and Interferon Production in Rats. J Nutr. 1990;120(10):1264-1273. doi:10.1093/jn/120.10.1264.