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UA researchers: Concussions can lead to problems elsewhere in body

PHOENIX — A new study from the University of Arizona showed that a concussion can make you susceptible to viruses, infection and pain in other parts of the body.

Research from the University of Arizona College of Medicine showed that a brain injury can affect the entire body.

“What we showed is that brain actually suppresses the regulation of the immune system,” Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz, director of the Translational Neurotrauma Research Program at Barrow’s Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said.

“There are cells, that are called regulatory T-Cells, that try to regulate the immune system,” Lifshitz said. “They appear to be damaged, so that once you get a second infection, the immune system is not quite able to mount an appropriate immune response.”

The research found the immune system is highly activated following a brain injury, such as concussions. In fact, it’s so activated that immune-active molecules migrate to the body from the brain, leading to pain in another part of the body.

Lifshitz said the next step in the study is to find out how long it will take for the body to recover on its own, and whether T-cell injections or some other type of therapeutic approach will help the immune system to be balanced faster.

The research was featured in the May 13 edition of the scientific journal called “Molecular Pain.”

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