HomeUSAMcMaster's research builds on the link between long-term COVID and autoimmune diseases...

McMaster’s research builds on the link between long-term COVID and autoimmune diseases such as lupus.OUS News

Some long-term COVID patients suffering from symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath show signs of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, a McMaster University study suggests, based on similar findings elsewhere.

Manali Mukherjee, who led the study and is a respiratory disease researcher, said that two specific abnormal antibodies or autoantibodies that attack healthy tissue and are known to cause autoimmune disease persist in about 30% of patients a year after infection.

The study was based on blood samples from patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 between August 2020 and September 2021 and were treated at two hospitals in Vancouver and another in Hamilton.

The persistence of autoantibodies for a year or longer indicates that patients need to see a specialist who can check for signs of an autoimmune disease, she said of conditions that also include type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

“If you have long-term symptoms of COVID, even 12 months after contracting COVID, consider getting a rheumatological exam, just to make sure there is no path to systemic disease,” Mukherjee said.

The study, which also included Dr. Chris Karlsten of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia, was published Thursday in the European Respiratory Journal and included 106 patients.

Mukherjee said the work supports new research on long-term COVID, which mostly affects women.

A study of 300 patients published earlier this year in the journal Cell by US researchers showed for the first time that autoantibodies among those infected with the virus can lead to long-term COVID symptoms, but it was limited to three to four months after recovery. Mukerji said.

“There is no such thing as pushing through long COVID,” says patient

A Swiss study of 90 patients, published last April in the journal Allergy, found that autoantibodies may be present a year after infection in 40% of patients.

“But this study confirms the presence of specific autoantibodies and is further associated with persistence of fatigue and shortness of breath, the two main long-term symptoms of COVID, for 12 months,” she said.

Mukherjee, who herself contracted COVID in January 2021 after starting research on the disease, said she experienced fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches and foggy brain.

“Headaches used to be so bad and now they’re coming back. You’ll be fine and then all of a sudden you’ll relapse again,” she said, adding that she’s back to about 75 percent of her normal energy levels but has learned to prioritize. health during long working hours and ensures that she gets enough sleep.

Mukherjee is currently studying long-term COVID patients for two years to see how their autoantibody levels change over the long term.

Calgary resident Sarah Olson said prolonged COVID has kept her from returning to work as a daycare teacher since she contracted the disease in January 2021.

“There is no such thing as pushing through. You just get worse and worse in new ways,” said Olson, who has a 9-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. breathing and other symptoms.

“Until this spring, I could not stand still for a long time, but I could walk at a moderate pace. Now I can’t take it anymore. I need walkers. This Saturday I turn 41 and I need a walker. .”

Olson said she has also been diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, although Mukherjee said a definitive link between this debilitating, long-term condition and the long course of COVID has not been established.

Olson said the main problem is that she will never recover from prolonged COVID.

“If I can’t manage my symptoms by resting and moving as much as I need without stress, then I have every reason to believe that I will only get worse,” she said through tears.

“The study needs to make a breakthrough because they are still trying to figure out what the underlying cause is,” Olson said, adding that this could mean that treatment options are still far off.

“We’re almost three years old and still in the dark in many ways.”