“Dentists and doctors may be able to “train” their patients’ innate immune cells to protect against infections in the mouth, at a time when the risk of infection is high, such as during chemotherapy, according to a recent study in Cell.
“This innate immune training takes place in the bone marrow and results in the production of increased numbers of white blood cells (neutrophils) that can readily fight infections in the oral cavity and elsewhere in the body,” lead author, George Hajishengallis, DDS, PhD, told Incisor in an email interview.
“This could be a strategy to prime the immune system not only prior to a situation where the risk of infection is high, but also prior to chemotherapy to prevent depletion of our immune system’s neutrophils,” explained Dr. Hajishengallis, who is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. One troubling side effect of chemotherapy is an increased risk of infection in the mouth. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells, but also the cells that patients need to protect themselves against opportunistic infections.”
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