Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Social Interference


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Are you shy? Maybe your T-cells are to blame!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

T-cells are the body’s immune warriors. They fight off invaders and keep you healthy! But what if your army of cells is short a few good men? You might get sick, sure, but are there other surprising consequences?

University of Virginia scientists got some mice, removed T-cells from half, and gave all the mice a choice: Meet a new friend or go to an empty room.

Healthy mice mostly socialized. Mice with fewer T-cells however did NOT care. They spent equal time with the friend and the empty room.

This a-social trait is associated with autism. However, T-cells do not live in the brain, where social behavior is controlled. So where’s the connection?

Researchers narrowed it down to one protein– interferon gamma. They removed the protein from T-cells then put those T-cells back into socially broken mice. And--?  The mice remained a-social! 

Probable cause?  A lack of interferon gamma! 

So if you’re staying in on Saturday night watching “Game of Thrones,” you’re not anti-social – it’s a T-cell thing!