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Impaired immune function is a clear and growing threat to the health and well-being of people with Down syndrome (DS). Understanding how and why the immune system is altered in people with DS is essential to develop new therapies.

In this study led by Bernard Khor, MD, PhD, at Benaroya Research Institute, the team studied the immune system of 28 people with DS. They built new tools that allowed them to show that the immune system of a person with DS resembles, on average, that of an older person without DS. These tools also helped them identify IL-6 (a protein found in blood) as a novel cause of some of these immune differences, highlighting the need for continued research.

This advanced immune aging may help explain why people with DS are more predisposed to autoimmune diseases (such as celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis) and often mount weaker responses to vaccination. The team at Benaroya Research Institute is working to understand if therapies used in older typical individuals can benefit people with DS and vice versa.


Study is published in Science Translational Medicine: