UT Research Shows Why Getting Healthy Can Seem Worse Than Getting Sick

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Edmund LeGrand, an adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences within the College of Veterinary Medicine, has received worldwide media attention for his research which helps explain why the immune system often makes us worse while trying to make us well. It was published in the latest edition of the Quarterly Review of Biology. The research offers a new perspective on a component of the immune system known as the acute-phase response, a series of systemic changes in blood protein levels, metabolic function, and physiology that sometimes occurs when bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens invade the body. This response puts healthy cells and tissue under serious stress, and is actually the cause of many of the symptoms we associate with being sick. “The question is why would these harmful components evolve,” said LeGrand, who wrote the paper with Joe Alcock of the University of New Mexico. The researchers contend that answer becomes clear when we view the acute-phase response in terms of what they call “immune brinksmanship.”

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