A new possible explanation for long COVID could lead to a simple treatment for some patients

William of England
By William of England 4 Min Read

That’s in accordance to a new study by University of Pennsylvania researchers revealed Monday within the journal Cell. Researchers say the findings could lead to treatment for a illness that thus far has none.

The concept of SARS-CoV-2, or any coronavirus, lingering within the physique after acute an infection—in what’s referred to as a “viral reservoir,” generally referred to within the common press as “viral ghosts”—shouldn’t be new. In reality, it’s been proven to occur, with some speculating that viral reservoirs are accountable for long-COVID signs in a minimum of some circumstances. Other mechanisms behind long COVID are thought to embody persistent irritation, elevated prevalence of blood clots, and autonomic dysfunction—all triggered by the virus.

While it may appear logical that neurologic long-COVID signs like mind fog, reminiscence loss, and despair are attributable to the presence of virus within the mind, researchers in Pennsylvania suggest a completely different principle: that virus lingering within the intestine causes such signs in a roundabout means.

It works like this: SARS-CoV-2 lingering within the intestine causes persistent irritation, which leads to lowered manufacturing of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that sends messages between nerve cells in your mind and people in different elements of the physique. It additionally performs a key function in regulating sleep, temper, digestion, and blood clotting, amongst different bodily capabilities. 

The lack of serotonin, in flip, disrupts connectivity between the peripheral nervous system and the mind, inflicting neurologic signs. The intestine is often called the “second brain” as a result of each are massive nerve facilities in fixed communication with one another.

“Long COVID varies in each individual patient, and we don’t fully understand what causes the differences in symptoms from patient to patient,” Christoph Thaiss, an assistant professor of microbiology on the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, stated in a information launch in regards to the examine.

But the examine provides docs a biomarker they’ll check patients for—serotonin—he added, and the flexibility to deal with low ranges with supplementation or SSRIs, antidepressants that inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin by neurons, thus rising its availability.

So far, there is no such thing as a particular, efficient treatment for long COVID. This could be the primary, or one among them.

What is long COVID?

Many specialists contend that long COVID is finest outlined as a situation comparable to persistent fatigue syndrome that develops after COVID sickness, very like different post-viral syndromes that may happen after an infection with herpes, Lyme illness, and even Ebola. Other post-COVID problems, like organ harm and put up–intensive-care syndrome, shouldn’t be outlined as long COVID, they are saying.

Common signs embody reminiscence loss, mind fog, fatigue, and despair, although greater than 200 signs have been reported.

Anywhere from 7.7 million to 23 million Americans had been estimated to have long COVID as of July, in accordance to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Damage from the new dysfunction can linger for a minimum of two years, in accordance to a examine revealed in August in Nature Medicine.

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