What chances do children have against COVID-19? Is the answer hidden within the thymus?
Hatice Güneş; Serpil Dinçer; Can Acıpayam (et al.)
Published: October 2020
Journal: European Journal of Pediatrics
As with other types of
coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 affects children less frequently, and it has been observed that the disease is mild. In the pathogenesis
of a standard viral infection, the pathogen’s contact with the mucosa is initially followed by an innate immunity response. T cells
are the primary decisive element in adaptive immunity capability. For this reason, the adaptive immune response mediated by the
thymus is a process that regulates the immune response responsible for preventing invasive damage from a virus. Regulatory T
cells (T-reg) are active during the early periods of life and have precise roles in immunomodulation. The thymus is highly active
in the intrauterine and neonatal period; it begins to shrink after birth and continues its activity until adolescence. The loss of T-reg
function by age results in difficulty with the control of the immune response, increased inflammation as shown in coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) as an inflammatory storm. Also, the thymus is typically able to replace the T cells destroyed by apoptosis
caused by the virus. Thymus and T cells are the key factors of pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 in children. Since thymus activity and T lymphocyte function in children protect them against the virus effects, stimulating and preventing the inhibition of the thymus can be possible treatment components against COVID-19.