Study Finds That Mild Covid Infections May Cause Inflammation in Cells Months Later

April 7, 2022 13:44:10

Researchers have found evidence that the human immune system is more prone to inflammation after an individual suffers from a mild case of the coronavirus. Inflammation occurs as an individual’s body responds to infection from germs. However, in some coronavirus-infection cases, the immune response causes damage throughout an individual’s body.

The study was carried out by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, as well as Germany’s Technical University of Munich and the Helmholtz Center Munich.

The researchers’ objective was to learn more about the changes to the immune system that may occur in milder coronavirus-infection cases.

For their research, the scientists gathered blood samples from 68 individuals who had previously been diagnosed with mild coronavirus infections. These samples were collected at different intervals, three to five months after infection then again a year later. The researchers compared these samples to those of individuals without coronavirus infections, focusing on every individual’s macrophages, or white blood cells that detect infections and alert other immune cells about the invaders.

The researchers exposed these important white blood cells to mock signals of infections, measuring how each reacted, which included observing which genes were activated. They discovered that at the three- to five-month mark, the macrophages of individuals with mild coronavirus infections didn’t behave the same as those who had not been exposed to the virus.

Craig Wheelock, a lecturer at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Karolinska Institute and the author of the study, explained that the macrophages released higher amounts of molecules that are known to play a role in causing inflammation. The researchers also found that about 15% of individuals in the mild coronavirus infection group suffered persistent symptoms months after the infection. However, this figure dropped to zero 12 months later. The researchers also note that the inflammatory changes they observed in the macrophages of these individuals also faded away a year later.

It should be noted that the study was based on a small sample size. Additionally, it isn’t clear how applicable these findings are to researchers’ understanding of long COVID. Wheelock noted that the study’s findings didn’t explain the mechanism for long COVID infections as none of the individuals who participated in the study were diagnosed with long COVID.

Scientists are now focused on finding out more about the nature of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection and how it can impact an individual months after the initial ailment has passed. The study’s findings were published in the “Mucosal Immunology” journal.

Given that systemic inflammation can trigger more serious health complications, there is an urgent need to develop new therapies to manage this type of inflammation. Companies such as AREV Life Sciences Global Corp. (CSE: AREV) (OTC: AREVF) are focused on bringing to market the next generation of remedies to inflammation, and these could help lots of patients in need.

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