Bacterial meningitis is a severe bacterial infection that results in inflammation in the brain. Medical professionals are still trying to fully understand this condition, especially how it interacts with the immune system. Research from the Karolinska Institutet demonstrated that the bacteria that cause the infection are actually able to evade the immune system, which is very helpful in understanding and treating the disease.
About Bacterial Meningitis
A variety of bacteria can be responsible for this condition, which sees inflammation of the meninges. About three to seven days after exposure, symptoms will appear. They consist of:
- Stiff neck
- Altered mental status
Complications may arise from this condition, making treatment essential. Brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and death are possible complications. The bacteria that causes this condition can be spread in a variety of ways, whether it’s from mother to child, through saliva or mucus, or dirty food. Possible risk factors include being of a young age, living in a large group setting, traveling to certain parts of the world, and having certain conditions. In terms of treatment, rapid diagnosis and immediate therapy are necessary. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics to treat the illness, and vaccines exist to prevent it.
About the Research
Through laboratory tests, the researchers were able to see that two strands of bacteria – Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae – are able to produce safeguards against the rising temperatures caused by a fever. Because of this, they are better able to escape the immune system and continue to cause symptoms.
To discover this, they utilized laboratory tests to examine and evaluate the bacteria’s response to changes in temperature. Upon stimulating a fever, the bacteria utilized RNA molecules that can sense temperature. Four RNA thermosensors (RNATs) are intended to increase the production of immune-modulatory Factor H binding proteins and larger protective capsules, which help to protect the bacteria from the immune system.
Based on this research, RNATs give bacteria an extra layer of armor to evade the immune system, making it easier for the bacteria to move from the nose and throat into the bloodstream. While more research is needed, this information is very helpful in understanding bacterial meningitis.
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