E 319 additive could affect flu vaccine effectiveness

May 24, 2019
Sébastien Bouley

This study from the university of Michigan and funded by the National Institutes of Health tries to determine a new potential relation between food additive E 319 (the tert-butylhydroquinone, or tBHQ) and the flu vaccine effectiveness. Indeed, tBHQ can be found in several food products including cooking oils, frozen meats (especially fish) and processed foods such as chips and crackers. Products don’t always have to include the additive on ingredient lists.

Using various flu strains including H1N1 and H3N2, Freeborn and Rockwell focused on CD4 and CD8 T cells and incorporated tBHQ into the food of mice in an amount comparable to human consumption. The researchers looked at several response factors including whether the T cells showed up, were able to do the right job and ultimately, recognize and remember the invading virus. TBHQ also slowed down the initial activation of T cells, reducing their ability to fight off an infection sooner. This allowed the virus to run rampant in the mice until the cells fully activated.

A second phase of the study showed the additive hindered the immune system’s ability to remember how to respond to the flu virus, particularly when another strain was introduced at another time. This resulted in a longer recovery and additional weight loss in the mice.

To know more about the study, you can consult the report of the university on this link or the summary.

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