Autoantibodies are formed in 20% of patients with severe COVID-19

Science, technology and technology news

Moscow. September 15th. INTERFAX.RU – Researchers at Stanford Medical School (Stanford Medicine) have found that hospitalized patients with COVID-19 often form autoantibodies – antibodies directed to their own tissues or substances that their immune cells release into the blood, Stanford said in a statement. Medicine.

Autoantibodies may be early harbingers of full-blown autoimmune disease.

Scientists looked for autoantibodies in blood samples taken in March and April 2020 from 147 COVID-19 patients at three university hospitals and 48 patients at Kaiser Permanente in California. Blood samples taken from other donors prior to the COVID-19 pandemic were used as controls.

Researchers have identified and measured levels of antibodies that target the virus; autoantibodies and antibodies directed against cytokines, proteins that immune cells release to interact with each other and coordinate their overall strategy.

“Scientists found that more than 60% of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients, compared with about 15% of healthy controls, had antibodies to cytokines. This could be the result of an overload of the immune system caused by a virulent, lingering infection,” says in the message.

Blood samples from approximately 50 patients were available for the study, taken on different days, including the day of their hospitalization. This allowed scientists to track the development of autoantibodies.

“Within a week of admission to the hospital, about 20% of these patients developed new antibodies to their own tissues, which were not there on the day they were hospitalized, in many cases the autoantibody levels were comparable to autoimmune disease,” the report says.

It is possible that the inflammatory shock in the systems of patients with severe COVID-19 caused a spike in previously undetectable and possibly harmless levels of autoantibodies that these people may have carried prior to infection. The generation of autoantibodies can also result from exposure to viral materials that resemble the patient's own proteins.

The study notes that the study strengthens the case for vaccination, as COVID-19 vaccines contain only the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein or genetic instructions for its production.

“If you have a really bad case, you could incur lifelong problems, because the virus can disable autoimmunity. We cannot yet say that you will definitely get an autoimmune disease – we did not study patients long enough to know if these autoantibodies still exist. in a year or two, although we hope to study it – but you certainly can. I would not want to risk it, “said one of the study co-authors, professor of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford University School of Medicine Paul J. Utz.

Scientists intend to study blood samples from patients in whom COVID-19 was asymptomatic or mild. This will help determine whether the problem is caused by massive overactivation of the immune system, which does not occur in people with mild coronavirus symptoms and in their absence, or the simple molecular similarity of SARS-CoV-2 proteins is enough to trigger the generation of autoantibodies.

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