How Living With Someone Makes Your Immune Systems Eerily Similar

When you live with someone, it turns out that it can be way more intimate than just sharing space — you can also end up having similar immune systems.

A new study, published in the journal Nature Immunology last week, suggests that the cellular composition of our immune systems is partly shaped by who we live with as well as our age.

The research marks the first time that the immune systems of two unrelated individuals in a close relationship have been closely analyzed and compared, said Dr. Adrian Liston, a researcher at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology in Belgium and a co-author of the study.

“We already knew that environmental factors can impact the immune system, so in that regard it should not be a surprise that people with similar environments have similar immune systems,” Liston told The Huffington Post. “But what was really surprising was the strength of the effect.”

For the study, the researchers monitored and analyzed the immune systems of about 670 people, ranging in age from 2 to 86, over a three-year period.

The researchers collected blood samples from each person and took a close look at the immune cells in each sample, New Scientist reported.

After assessing each person’s age, gender and weight, the researchers discovered that the individuals who lived together had surprisingly similar cellular compositions in their immune systems.

“We know multiple environmental factors can change the immune system – diet, alcohol, smoking, exercise, pollution, stress – and lot of these factors will be shared in couples,” Liston said.

Furthermore, couples who lived together and shared a child had 50 percent more similar immune systems than seen in the wider population.

“The effect of cohabitation with a child was a more powerful influence on the immune system than 40 years of aging!” Liston —> Read More