In a new study from Karolinska Institutet, researchers found why some people suffer from long-lasting symptoms after COVID-19 infection.
They found that a certain type of immune cells called macrophages show altered inflammatory and metabolic expression several months after mild COVID-19.
They showed that the macrophages from people with mild COVID-19 exhibit an altered inflammatory and metabolic expression for three to five months post-infection.
Even though the majority of these people did not have any persistent symptoms, their immune system was more sensitive than that of their healthy counterparts.
Long-term symptoms are relatively common after severe COVID-19 infection but may also affect some individuals with previous mild disease.
More research is needed to understand the long-term immune aberrations in patients who have recovered from the acute phase of the infection.
In the study, the team analyzed blood samples from 68 people with previous mild COVID-19 infection and a control group of 36 people who had not had COVID-19.
They found a large number of eicosanoid molecules in people with COVID-19 as the disease causes inflammation and that they were still being produced in high quantities several months after the infection.
The study also showed a higher concentration of leukotrienes, which are a type of pro-inflammatory molecules known for causing asthma.
Leukotrienes are key mediators of asthma, but they’re also involved in the antiviral host defense against influenza.
A sustained increase after SARS-CoV-2 infection could cause greater sensitivity to respiratory inflammation, but could also improve antiviral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 or other viruses.
The researchers note that the post-COVID diagnosis was not specifically examined in the study and as such more research is needed to determine if these results can be directly linked to what is also known as long COVID.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about COVID vaccination less effective for people with these health problems, and findings of vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19 and death.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about new drug combo that could help treat COVID-19, and results showing that almost 1 in 3 older people develop new health problems after COVID-19 infection.
The study is published in Mucosal Immunology and was conducted by Craig Wheelock et al.
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