Your Questions About An Impaired Immune System

August 28, 2013

Betty asks…

What is pneumonia and what are its symptoms?

Is it hard to exale your oxygen if you have pneumonia? If soo why does this happb can some one plz explain?

admin answers:

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that is usually caused by infection. Pneumonia can also be caused by inhaling irritants such as vomit, liquids, or chemicals. With pneumonia, the air sacs in the lungs fill with liquid or pus, which interferes with the lungs’ ability to transfer oxygen to the blood.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Bacteria and viruses are the primary causes of pneumonia. When a person breathes pneumonia-causing germs into his lungs and his body’s immune system cannot otherwise prevent entry, the organisms settle in small air sacs called alveoli and continue multiplying. As the body sends white blood cells to attack the infection, the sacs become filed with fluid and pus – causing pneumonia.

Elderly persons and small children may actually have fewer or more mild symptoms than expected for such high risk groups. Most people with pneumonia begin with cold and flu symptoms and then develop a high fever, chills, and cough with sputum.

Although symptoms may vary greatly depending on other underlying conditions, common symptoms include:
-Rusty or green mucus (sputum) coughed up from lungs
-Fast breathing and shortness of breath
-Shaking chills
-Chest pain that usually worsens when taking a deep breath (pleuritic pain)
-Fast heartbeat
-Fatigue and feeling very weak
-Nausea and vomiting
-Muscle pain
-Confusion or delirium
-Dusky or purplish skin color (cyanosis) from poorly oxygenated blood

Some people are more likely than others to develop pneumonia. Individuals at higher risk include those who:
-Abuse alcohol.
-Have other medical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), -emphysema, asthma, or HIV/AIDS.
-Are younger than 1 year of age or older than 65.
-Have a weakened or impaired immune system.
-Take medicines for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
-Have recently recovered from a cold or influenza infection.
-Are malnourished.
-Have been recently hospitalized in an intensive care unit.
-Have been exposed to certain chemicals or pollutants.
-Are Native Alaskan or certain Native American ethnicity.
-Have any increased risk of breathing mucus or saliva from the nose or mouth, liquids, or food from the stomach into the lungs.

Helen asks…

What are the dangers of cloning animals?

I’m doing a project that will change the world. I need some information about cloning animals, and the cons of cloning animals. Please help, I am in desperate need of advice asap because this project is so important.

admin answers:

When we hear of cloning successes, we learn about only the few attempts that worked. What we don’t see are the many, many cloning experiments that failed! And even in the successful clones, problems tend to arise later, during the animal’s development to adulthood.

Cloning animals shows us what might happen if we try to clone humans. What have these animals taught us about the risks of cloning?

1. High failure rate

Cloning animals through somatic cell nuclear transfer is simply inefficient. The success rate ranges from 0.1 percent to 3 percent, which means that for every 1000 tries, only one to 30 clones are made. Or you can look at it as 970 to 999 failures in 1000 tries. That’s a lot of effort with only a speck of a return!

Why is this? Here are some reasons:

The enucleated egg and the transferred nucleus may not be compatible
An egg with a newly transferred nucleus may not begin to divide or develop properly
Implantation of the embryo into the surrogate mother might fail
The pregnancy itself might fail
2. Problems during later development

Cloned animals that do survive tend to be much bigger at birth than their natural counterparts. Scientists call this “Large Offspring Syndrome” (LOS). Clones with LOS have abnormally large organs. This can lead to breathing, blood flow and other problems.

Because LOS doesn’t always occur, scientists cannot reliably predict whether it will happen in any given clone. Also, some clones without LOS have developed kidney or brain malformations and impaired immune systems, which can cause problems later in life.

3. Abnormal gene expression patterns

Are the surviving clones really clones? The clones look like the originals, and their DNA sequences are identical. But will the clone express the right genes at the right time?

In Click and Clone, we saw that one challenge is to re-program the transferred nucleus to behave as though it belongs in a very early embryonic cell. This mimics natural development, which starts when a sperm fertilizes an egg.

In a naturally-created embryo, the DNA is programmed to express a certain set of genes. Later on, as the embryonic cells begin to differentiate, the program changes. For every type of differentiated cell – skin, blood, bone or nerve, for example – this program is different.

In cloning, the transferred nucleus doesn’t have the same program as a natural embryo. It is up to the scientist to reprogram the nucleus, like teaching an old dog new tricks. Complete reprogramming is needed for normal or near-normal development. Incomplete programming will cause the embryo to develop abnormally or fail.

4. Telomeric differences

As cells divide, their chromosomes get shorter. This is because the DNA sequences at both ends of a chromosome, called telomeres, shrink in length every time the DNA is copied. The older the animal is, the shorter its telomeres will be, because the cells have divided many, many times. This is a natural part of aging.

So, what happens to the clone if its transferred nucleus is already pretty old? Will the shortened telomeres affect its development or lifespan?

When scientists looked at the telomere lengths of cloned animals, they found no clear answers. Chromosomes from cloned cattle or mice had longer telomeres than normal. These cells showed other signs of youth and seemed to have an extended lifespan compared with cells from a naturally conceived cow. On the other hand, Dolly the sheep’s chromosomes had shorter telomere lengths than normal. This means that Dolly’s cells were aging faster than the cells from a normal sheep.

Michael asks…

What system does Parkinson’s disease affect?

I know it affects the autonomic central nervous system. But more specifically, does it affect the sympathetic or parasympathetic system?

admin answers:

While Parkinson’s seems to begin as a disease of the central nervous system, it actually affects most of the systems in the body.

Because Parkinson’s is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease, it can eventually work its way through all systems: digestive (gastrointestinal), respiratory and circulatory systems, musculoskeletal. Excretory and urinary systems, reproductive system, immune system, endocrine system.


The autonomic nervous system controls heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils, the discharge of urine, and sexual arousal. Although most of its actions are involuntary, some ANS functions work together with the conscious mind, in breathing for example. Common symptoms of a problem are erectile dysfunction, dizziness, decrease in blood pressure and urinary incontinence; all of which are common to PD.

Since your question is also specific to the parasympathetic nervous system, read the abstract below (link also provided) and then you can find your own words. The important thing to know is that not all PD patients develop Lewy bodies. But the dementia caused by their presence is found in both Parkinson’s disease with dementia (PDD) and in Lewy Body Disorder (LBD) with parkinsonian symptoms. A third condition associated with lewy bodies is ANS.

“Lewy body formation has been considered to be a marker for neuronal degeneration, because postmortem studies of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients have shown loss of neurons in the predilection sites for Lewy bodies. We systemically studied the autonomic nervous system in patients with PD. Lewy bodies were widely distributed in the hypothalamus, sympathetic system (intermediolateral nucleus of the thoracic cord and sympathetic ganglia) and parasympathetic system (dorsal vagal and sacral parasympathetic nuclei). The number of neurons in the intermediolateral nucleus was significantly reduced. Furthermore, Lewy bodies were also found in the enteric nervous system of the alimentary tract, cardiac plexus, pelvic plexus and adrenal medulla. These findings indicate that both central and peripheral autonomic nervous systems are involved in the disease process in PD.”

Another relation comes with orthostatic hypotension and the sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing. This can become common in PD because it is a side effect of aging and in one sense, PD is very accelerated aging of select neurons which result in the many symptoms of aging.

You can read about the imbalance between the autonomic and the parasympathetic nervous system
in ANS disorder: “Malfunction of the ANS is called autonomic failure. It results from an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions. Aging is associated with several abnormalities in ANS function that can impair elderly people’s adaptation to stress.

The most common signs of ANS impairment are a drop in blood pressure when a person is standing or stands up suddenly (orthostatic hypotension) or a drop in blood pressure within one hour of eating a meal (postprandial hypotension).

The drop in blood pressure causes inadequate blood flow to the brain. That’s why it’s common for people with this problem to feel dizzy or lightheaded. These conditions occur more often in people with high blood pressure.

Several abnormalities make normal elderly people more likely to have low blood pressure. The onset of disease in old age, such as diabetes, stroke and Parkinson’s disease, as well as medications used to treat them, may have other adverse effects in the ANS that are obvious in the cardiovascular system.”

You might also be interested in reading about the clinical trial which is currently enrolling by invitation only in Finland.
Duodenal Levodopa Infusion, Quality of Life and Autonomic Nervous System in Parkinson’s Disease
“Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders with increasing prevalence because of aging population. The main symptoms include rigidity, hypokinesia, tremor and impaired balance, but the disease also causes autonomic dysfunction. Motor fluctuations are common treatment related problems in PD, around 50-70% of patients treated with levodopa finally develop motor fluctuations. Continuous duodenal levodopa infusion has been effective in the treatment of motor dysfunction in advanced PD. However, little is known of its effects on autonomic nervous system”

This is another area in general research and there is not the body of information to help answer everything.

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