The Brazilian study of couples is helping to shed light on why some people may be naturally resistant to the virus
The researchers had believed such cases were rare, but a call for volunteers who fit that profile and “shared the same bedroom during infection” turned up roughly a thousand couples.
Ultimately, they took blood samples from 86 couples for detailed analysis and found that “women were overrepresented (65%) in the asymptomatic group”.
The results suggest the resistant partners more often have genes that contribute to more efficient activation of so-called natural killer (NK) cells, which are part of the immune system’s initial response to germs.
When NKs are correctly activated, they are able to recognize and destroy infected cells, preventing the disease from developing, the researchers explained in a report published on Tuesday in Frontiers in Immunology.
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