Coronaviruses mimic parts of immune system to attack the host’s body: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 04, 2020 Published on August 04, 2020

According to a new study commissioned by the Nature Medicine, SARS-CoV-2 mimics parts of the immunity system to attack the host’s body.

The observational study was conducted on 11,116 patients with SARS-CoV-2. The researchers concluded that age-related macular degeneration, an eye disorder caused by the overactive immune system and coagulation disorders (thrombocytopenia, thrombosis, and hemorrhage) are risk factors for SARS-CoV-2-associated disease.

Individuals with macular degeneration and coagulation disorders are at greater risk of losing their lives due to Covid-19.

There are two types of systems that prevent the body from various harmful agents — complement and coagulation.

The complement system is part of the immune system and enhances the ability of antibodies; the coagulation system includes cells, proteins, and processes that mediate blood clotting and are crucial to controlling pathogenesis associated with infections.

In a previous study, researchers from Columbia University Irving Medicine Centre found that there were 140 cellular proteins that were structurally mimicked by coronaviruses and identified targets of the complement system.

“The new coronavirus — by mimicking complement or coagulation proteins — might drive both systems into a hyperactive state,” said lead author Sagi Shapira, Ph.D., MPH, from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, in a statement.

“Viruses have proteins that can mimic certain host proteins to trick the host’s cells into aiding the virus with completing its life cycle,” Shapira said.

She added: “Beyond the fundamental biological questions that we were interested in addressing, based on our previous work and the work of others, we suspected that identifying those mimics could provide clues about how viruses cause disease."

The researchers noted that many clinical trials are exploring the use of preexisting anticoagulation treatments in COVID-19 patients.

"I think our findings provide a stronger foundation for the idea that coagulation and complement play a role in COVID," said Nicholas Tatonetti, professor at Columbia.

"[This] will hopefully inspire others to evaluate this hypothesis and see if it's something that can be useful for fighting the ongoing pandemic," Tatonetti added.

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Published on August 04, 2020
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