Q&A: The science behind lengthy COVID signs

June 21, 2022

3 min learn


Healio Interview

Disclosures: The researchers report no related monetary disclosures.

New analysis appears to assist clarify the biology behind lengthy COVID symptoms like brain fog and increased anxiety and depression.

In a examine revealed in Science Translational Drugs, researchers found that an immune response in olfactory tissue is affecting mind facilities that management emotion and cognition.

Supply: Adobe Inventory.

Justin J. Frere, an MD/PhD pupil on the Icahn Faculty of Drugs at Mount Sinai, and colleagues in contrast the response to SARS-CoV-2 vs. influenza A in tissue samples. The researchers reported that each viruses generated related responses in lung tissue; nevertheless, solely SARS-CoV-2 triggered a continual immune response within the olfactory system that continued 1 month after viral clearance.

Healio spoke with Frere about why SARS-CoV-2 causes long-term signs and the way the brand new examine findings might assist inform future analysis on remedy targets.

Healio: What is the easiest strategy to clarify to sufferers the the reason why SARS-CoV-2 causes signs like mind fog, despair and nervousness after the acute section of an infection is over?

Frere: Throughout its preliminary an infection, SARS-CoV-2 causes a large immune response that extends throughout nearly each a part of the physique. This systemic response to the virus — though it makes us really feel sick — is what permits us to ultimately remove the virus from our our bodies. This can be a course of which happens with many infections, and in our examine, we see the same course of taking place within the physique’s response to influenza. With regular infections, as soon as the pathogen is cleared, the immune response is not crucial anymore, and it’ll rapidly fade, returning your physique to a standard, non-sick state; nevertheless, with SARS-CoV-2, whereas a lot of the systemic immune response fades when the virus is cleared, there’s a small space of the mind referred to as the olfactory bulb through which this immune response appears to persist for fairly a very long time, even after the an infection is gone. Lengthy-term immune responses and related irritation within the mind may cause the nervous system to behave abnormally, resulting in the event of signs comparable to mind fog, despair and nervousness. We thus consider that this persistent immune response within the mind attributable to SARS-CoV-2 an infection could also be a significant contributor to the event of a number of the cognitive and behavioral signs seen in lengthy COVID sufferers. This being mentioned, we nonetheless have lots of work to do to verify the specifics of what’s taking place right here. SARS-CoV-2 may cause harm to the physique in a wide range of methods, and this makes it potential — if unlikely — that this persistent irritation is just one of a number of processes by which the virus may cause these lengthy COVID signs.

Healio: What are the implications of your findings?

Frere: Our examine highlights a singular molecular course of attributable to SARS-CoV-2 that will underlie a number of the cognitive signs related to lengthy COVID. In defining this course of, we hope that it serves as a possible goal that may be therapeutically handled in lengthy COVID sufferers — hopefully assuaging or stopping the event of those signs. Moreover, we present that hamsters can show persistent symptomology and pathologic processes in response to SARS-CoV-2 an infection, probably mimicking related processes which may be occurring in people that undergo from lengthy COVID. This makes hamsters a possible mannequin through which we will trial new lengthy COVID therapeutics. This may hopefully make it simpler to establish medication that may deal with this situation.

Healio: How might these new findings influence future analysis on potential therapeutic targets?

Frere: We predict that our analysis highlights a possible therapeutic goal that we could possibly successfully deal with with medication. Additional, in our examine, we confirmed the hamster to be a possible animal mannequin for lengthy COVID, and as such, we hope that we will leverage this data to check out new therapeutics in opposition to lengthy COVID in hamsters. As new lengthy COVID therapeutic targets are recognized, we hope that others will be capable to take a look at new medication in opposition to these targets within the hamster mannequin to extra rapidly establish efficient therapies for the illness.

Healio: What are the following steps of your analysis?

Frere: First, we’re actually hoping to discover this persistent olfactory irritation phenomenon additional in human sufferers. Additional, we hope to start out trialing medication in hamster mannequin to see if we will efficiently alleviate any behavioral alterations induced by SARS-CoV-2 an infection. We would love to check Paxlovid and corticosteroids to see if both of those medication can efficiently alleviate the persistent irritation that we see and in flip alleviate the behavioral abnormalities we be aware within the hamsters.

Healio: Is there anything you’d like so as to add?

Frere: In evaluating our outcomes from SARS-CoV-2-infected hamsters facet by facet to outcomes from influenza-infected hamsters, we current one of many first research by which we will benchmark SARS-CoV-2 an infection in opposition to different pandemic-associated pathogens. In doing this, we had been capable of not solely get a greater understanding of the severity attributable to SARS-CoV-2 an infection, however actually spotlight processes uniquely induced by SARS-CoV-2.



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