The mucous membrane of children’s noses is better at braking SARS-CoV-2 infections than the adults, which may explain why younger people had a lower infection rate and milder symptoms from earlier variants, according to a study.
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Researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia noted that the finding may be one of the reasons children’s immune responses have so far been shown to be more effective at avoiding and combating cancer. COVID-19.
However, the trend was clearly less pronounced in the case of the Omicron variant, they said.
“Children have a lower rate of COVID-19 infections and milder symptoms than adults, but the reasons for this are unknown,” said Kirsty Short of UQ.
“We have shown that the insides of children’s noses have a more pro-inflammatory response to the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 than to adult noses,” said Short. However, the study published in the journal PLOS Biology found that it is different when it comes to the Omicron variant.
The research team exposed the nasal mucosal cell samples from 23 healthy children and 15 healthy adults to SARS-CoV-2.
The results showed that the virus replicated less efficiently in the children nasal cells, as well as an increased antiviral response.
“It could be an adaptation to the heightened threat of ‘foreign invaders’ such as viruses or bacteria seen in childhood,” Short said.
“It is also possible that increased exposure to these threats in childhood ‘trains’ the nasal mucosa in children to elicit a stronger pro-inflammatory response,” she said. Alternatively, the researchers said, metabolic differences between children and adults may alter the way virus-fighting genes express themselves.
They found that the Delta COVID-19 variant was significantly less likely to replicate in the nasal cells of children compared to adults.
However, the effect was significantly less with the Omicron variant.
Taken together, it shows that children’s nasal mucosa supports a lower rate of infection and replication of ancestral SARS-CoV-2, but this may change as the virus evolves,”
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