The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a threat to the world. It has already infected 1% of the world’s population and has caused the deaths of 1.7 million people. As the fight against the disease continues, studying how our immune systems are damaged could finally help us slow its advance.
To delve into this topic, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jacob “Jake” Files, Nathan Erdmann and Paul Goepfert, conducted a survey that was recently published in Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Their observational study involved hospitalized COVID-19 patients, outpatients, and even control subjects who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. Thanks to this research, they have been able to better understand the different immune responses that our body can give to the virus.
On immune dysregulation and the coronavirus
Basically, the immune dysregulation occurs when the body has not been able to find a balance between the activation of protective cells and their subsequent depletion. In general, its presence therefore implies the development of autoimmune conditions, autoinflammation and loss of the general homeostatic balance of the body’s processes.
In the case of the coronavirus, cases of prolonged immune dysregulation can result in people being more susceptible to having secondary infections alongside COVID-19 or having greater difficulty generating a strong immune response against it.
How was it assessed whether coronavirus caused prolonged immune dysregulation
As mentioned, it was one purely observational study; therefore the data was collected only to record the progress of all cases. Blood samples and clinical data were obtained from the 46 hospitalized patients with active COVID-19. The same was repeated with the 39 outpatients recovering from the disease.
Similarly, these same data were collected from the equivalent control group filled with COVID-19 negative cases. Thanks to this process, it was possible to compare not only the immune response and its variations between the different levels of disease severity, but also the “balanced” basic levels from which every organism should start and to which it should return.
Immune dysregulation was greater in non-hospitalized coronavirus patients
Surprisingly, although coronavirus hospitalized patients initially showed the strongest immune dysregulation, it was outpatients who sustained it for the longest time.
In other words, at the time of the second blood test, despite the fact that non-hospitalized patients no longer had the virus active in their bodies, they were the ones with the greatest problems. This is because they had a imbalanced immune system and more exposed to external threats such as other diseases (or what same COVID-19).
Thanks to this information we can understand better how immunity against coronavirus works, a point that still remains somewhat elusive to us today. With this, better strategies and treatments could be developed to deal with the after-effects of the disease. Likewise, future vaccines could also be adapted to meet the possible different needs of individuals depending on their body.