Long-Covid patients show signs of an autoimmune disease in the blood. Canadian scientists have now proven this. Antibodies are apparently formed that are directed against the patient’s own tissue, reported Manali Mukherjee from McMaster University (Ontario) and Chris Carlsten (University of British Columbia/Vancouver) in the newly published issue of the European Respiratory Journal.
“Although Long Covid is now also recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a clinical picture, we still know little about its causes and how we can possibly help patients,” said Mukherjee on the occasion of the publication of the research results. The scientists included 106 people who had contracted Covid-19 between August 2020 and September 2021 in their study. There were also 22 healthy subjects and 34 people suffering from another respiratory infection.
The participants in the study were questioned and examined in detail after three, six and twelve months. Blood was also taken from them and examined for so-called autoantibodies – antibodies that are directed against their own tissue. The result: 80 percent of the Covid 19 patients had two or more such antibodies in their blood three and six months after the illness. Only after a year did this proportion drop to 41 percent. In the two control groups, on the other hand, there was little or no evidence of such an immune reaction.
The Canadian scientists assume that autoantibodies (e.g. U1snRNP and Ssb-La autoantibodies and certain immune messengers), as found in at least 30 percent of patients after Covid-19, lead to a chronic inflammatory reaction with states of exhaustion and problems with the airways being able to lead. Chris Carlsten: “Our data – like the studies of other scientists – point to the development of autoantibodies and to Long Covid as a systemic disease.” This also brings Long Covid close to rheumatic diseases, which are also based on autoimmune processes.