Almost since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many scientists have been trying to correlate the covid disease outcome severity with the reaction of immune system of our organization. A new study published in the journal Nature reports that certain human antibodies that target organs and tissues in the human body are responsible for the syndrome. Long Covid.
For almost 3 years, scientists have been racing to understand the immune responses in patients who develop severe Covid. The effort focused on understanding where healthy immunity ends and where “destructive immunity” appears to begin.
It has not been long since scientists were able to detect antibodies that target the body itself of patients despite the coronavirus. These studies revealed that patients with severe Covid have some of the key features of chronic autoimmune diseases, ie diseases in which the immune system attacks healthy body tissues.
The study, published in the journal Nature, helped provide more answers on the subject. Thus, we now know that in patients with severe Covid, many of the developing antibodies responsible for neutralizing the threat of the coronavirus, simultaneously target the body’s organs and tissues.
It also appeared that antibodies that target the organism can persist for months or even years in those suffering from Long Covid.
The immune system makes mistakes under pressure
Your immune system, even in its healthy state, contains one cell body which are fully capable of targeting and destroy your own cells and tissues. When your immune system first encounters a pathogen or even a perceived threat—such as a virus-like vaccine— rapidly recruits “B” cells that have the potential to become antibody producers. This is then gathered to a starting point.
Here, the cells “are trained” to better identify and combat the threat. The training period is intense and mistakes are not tolerated. B cells with any discernible potential for mistaken attacks against their host are killed. However, like any educational process, this accumulation and mobilization takes time – usually a week or two.
So what happens when the threat is more immediate – when someone is literally fighting for their life in an intensive care unit? Researchers now know that under the stress of severe viral infection with the coronavirus, this training process breaks down. Instead, it is replaced by a contingency response in which “recruits” with little training are rushed into battle.
Friendly fire is the unfortunate result.
According to the study, when fighting severe Covid, the same antibodies responsible for fighting the virus tend to they target the patient’s own tissues. This effect is mainly found in severe infection. The researchers found cells producing these rogue antibodies much less often in patients with milder forms of the disease, whose immune responses were more subdued.
Therefore, this means that anyone who is seriously ill with COVID, develops an autoimmunity disorder? Fortunately no.
By following patients after their infection, the scientists found that months later, the most worrisome signs had subsided. This is reasonable. Studying these emergency immune responses in mice over decades has shown that they are mostly short-lived.
Self-targeting antibodies are responsible for Long Covid
Although most people fully recover from the virus, a rate that reaches up to 30% of patients, have not returned to normal even three months after recovery. This has created a group of patients who experience what is known as Long Covid Syndrome.
With debilitating symptoms which may include long-term loss of taste, smell or both, general fatigue, brain fog and a variety of other conditions, these patients have continued to suffer after the initial illness and are rightly looking for answers.
An obvious question for researchers studying these patients is whether the same self-targeting antibodies that appear in severe covid remain in those suffering from Long Covid. This is what happens after all. This particular study makes it clear that newly developed auto-antibodies can persist for months.
Furthermore, work in development but not yet peer-reviewed finds that these responses are not limited to those recovering from severe illness and are readily identifiable in a large subset of Long Covid patients who had recovered from milder illness also.
This particular study is expected to provide valuable information in the search for a treatment for long-term symptom syndrome.
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