One of my interests in medicine is the study of inappropriate immune responses. These responses can manifest as seasonal allergies, food sensitivities, or autoimmunity. When the immune system is devoting effort to non-infectious causes, this often allows infectious pathogens to exist in the body unaccounted for. Lately, I have noticed a suspicious coincidence in that many of my patients expressing a sensitivity to foods also seem to have issues with a persistent virus. After looking at the literature, I found that this is known phenomena.
A study published in the vaunted journal "Science" discusses just that. The authors found that the Reovirus, which otherwise causes no other pathology or disease, is able to impact the body's ability to tolerate gluten in celiac disease.
To quote the authors, "Reovirus is an avirulent pathogen that elicits protective immunity, but we discovered that it can nonetheless disrupt intestinal immune homeostasis at inductive and effector sites of oral tolerance by suppressing peripheral regulatory T cell (pTreg) conversion and promoting TH1 immunity to dietary antigen" (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28386004)
Basically what this is saying is that the reovirus is disruptive to the cells that are responsible for immune tolerance (peripheral regulatory T cells).
This is a fresh new perspective on the field of allergic sensitivity and more research will surely follow.
Until then we have a number of options: we can reduce the number of copies of the virus in the body, modulate the chemical messengers responsible for the inflammatory response, and utilize our version of immune desensitization to stimulate new T regulatory cells to replace those that have been suppressed. These strategies can be helpful for those with seasonal allergies, food sensitivities, or autoimmunity.
Make an appointment today for a personalized assessment of your immune system.