Do Retroviruses and Histamines in the Gut Affect Our Long-Term Health?

Do Retroviruses and Histamines in the Gut Affect Our Long-Term Health?

The Emergence of Retroviruses as Key Links

With development going on towards the role of retroviruses and histamines in the gut, it’s time to delve deeper into their role in chronic disease. You’ve probably heard of antihistamines, but what are histamines? They are chemicals your immune system produces. They act like guards and help your body get rid of something that’s bothering you.

Retroviruses may provide an answer to the mystery behind the development of some chronic illnesses. All humans have retroviruses, with an estimated 8-15% of our DNA made up of retroviruses. New transmission of the retrovirus occurs via fluids in the hospital, by insect transmission, or by contaminated animal-source vaccines. ,

Despite the ubiquitous presence of retroviruses, do we really understand how retroviruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), affect the development of autoimmune health, cancer, and other chronic illness?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has taken major steps to reduce HIV cases globally. In July 2018, WHO held an international AIDS conference with particular attention given to HIV and its prevention in countries like Kenya. Thanks to their efforts, 19.5 million people with HIV are undergoing life-saving therapy.

What Are Retroviruses?

Retroviruses were discovered in 1908 when Oluf Bang and Vilhelm Ellermann identified a form of leukosis in chickens. Then, in 1911, Peyton Rous at the Rockefeller Institute in New York observed the transmission of sarcoma in chickens due toAvian sarcoma leukosis virus (ASLV),;an endogenous retrovirus. Since then, over seven retroviruses have been identified, and the list keeps growing.

One possible avenue for attacking retroviruses is gene therapy. In 2018, the FDA announced that it would fast-track the approval process for gene therapy. Gina Kolata reported in a New York Times article that this would allow insertion of custom-made viruses carrying beneficial genes into our DNA. As part of gene studies and connections to virology, key links are present in the p53 gene. One study conducted in 2017 found that the p53 gene is central to retrovirus infections at an early stage of replication. The p53 gene tends to mediate retrovirus infections via inhibiting them. The process of gene therapy is comprehensive, wherein very few medical centers have the expertise and necessities to carry out massive levels of genetic therapy research.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), confirms that there were 38,500 new HIV infections in 2015 that resulted in an annual decline of 8 percent from 2010.

Moreover, according to the WHO:

  • HIV/AIDS is the most significant public health challenge, and middle to low-income countries face the highest risk of infection.
  • Retroviruses are paving its way in modern medicine, and Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) has saved the lives of millions and millions of people.
  • WHO has established and released clear guidelines to prevent deterioration of infected individuals.

Since human chromosomes consist of viral DNA, scientists have also found that retroviruses help the human biological system to perform beneficial tasks. In a New York Times Article, Zimmer writes,

“What can be more alien than viruses? They are Nano-biological weapons; hijack the cell, forcing them to make newer viruses. While the human body wins some battles, others bring sickness, scars, and death.”

The chart above appeared on Kate Nelson Design.

HIV and its historical presence is represented due to the widespread awareness and conflicting outbreak.

A question arises, where did HIV come from, and why did it suddenly attack humans?

The first case of HIV was present in 1959 from a man in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For many years, there were multiple theories that focused on the origin of HIV in the human population. Scholars believe that HIV-1 was introduced into the human population when hunters were exposed to virus-infected blood. Based on the earliest HIV sample, scientists concluded that HIV most likely stems from infected people from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1920.

Map 1: From 1884-1916, the virus jumped from chimpanzees to humans, but it was not until 1920 with the epicentre at Kinshasa that the virus ultimately took off to different regions in DR Congo.

The map appeared in New Scientist.

Map 2: The geographic spread looks at the current trends and prevalence in DR Congo, rendering the chimpanzee theory and eventual human spread correct.

The current geographic mainstay of HIV in DR Congo published in Republic of the Congo

Histamines and the Gut

Histamines work in the immune system and cause many chemical reactions in the body. Four histamine receptors are located in the gut, where histamineplays a role in secreting gastric acid (stomach juice), which regulates pathological and physiological processes in the gastric cells. Despite recognizing its imperative role in functional medicine, people are still baffled about histamine’s role in gut health.

The best way to understand histamine’s actions is to understand histamine intolerance, which occurs due to the excessive buildup of histamine, leading to similar effects to allergic responses and symptoms.

 Recent research suggests that changes in the gut microbiome are the main reason for this intolerance. A high intake of histamine via diet is present in middle-aged adults; the sources include selected meat, fish, cheese, and vegetables. One percent of the population today is histamine intolerant, out of which 80 percent of these individuals are middle-aged.

While the prevalence of viruses in our system is multifold, some bacteria can affect histamines. Species of Escherichia Coli have shown an increase in histamine production, and the microorganism thrives in gut environments with the presence of nitric oxide.

A mast cell contains histamine and is part of the immune system. While elaborate studies on mast cells are not present, it is safe to say that mast cells are central to the immune system. They cause the release of histamine, and other agents in the gut to fight viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Any invader can cause the release of mast cells.

Researchers Saluja, Metz, and Maurer  from Charité, Germany write,

“Mast cells are the true army barracks that the body needs to thrive.”

The key connection here is that mast cells are important in the innate immune system. Mast cells mediate histamine, alter the state of our immune response, and are effective in eliminating the infection.

Histamine sensitivity is a key factor in viral infections; the role of mast cells during viral infections is poorly studied, but mast cells can be activated if the host is infected with the influenza virus.

Did you Know that the Human Embryo has Viral DNA at 45 Days?

Scientists recently learned that this viral DNA is 100 million years old, named HEMO, and is expressed in tumour cells and pluripotent stem cells. In July 2017, the peculiar protein was identified in a pregnant woman that originated from the fetus and placenta. In addition to HEMO, we have such viral DNA in the human genome. One of them includes HERVs, in addition to seventeen other unnamed viral sequences.

There is an interesting connection that an international team of researchers stumped on while visiting the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada in Spain. Scientists identified a stream of viruses circling the planet. It is interesting to find that many of these viruses are streaming the earth’s atmosphere. Scientists found that these were carried thousands of kilometers before they were deposited on the earth’s surface.

Dr Suttle and his associates are carrying out similar studies published in the International Society of Microbial Ecology Journal that determined virology count of virus particles falling on our planet. It was described that there is a “virosphere” on our planet.

Researchers are now wondering what mast cells and histamines do for gut health. Retroviruses have only targeted human bodies in the last two centuries due to the decline of endogenous retroviruses that play the role of bread crumbs as they link infections like HIV, certain cancers, and the immune system to contracting.

Zouina Sarfraz, BSc, MBBS, Fatima Jinnah Medical University, Lahore, Pakistan.

Zouina is the Managing Editor of Pak J Surg Med, and the editor of PJSM Blog. She has active interests in conducting research, data collection, and analysis.

For any queries about research collaborations or PJSM tips, please message Zouina on Twitter.


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