Scientists find increased levels of bacterial debris; paralysed key immune cells in Covid-19 patients

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 13, 2020

Covid-19 patients may have impaired capacity to produce interferon alfa, that’s produced by white blood cells to inhibit virus multiplication, say Stanford University researchers

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has the potential to paralsze key immune cells that shield the body from foreign agents. The immune paralysis differs from mild to severe cases of the novel coronavirus, as per a study published in the Science magazine.

Most people suffering from Covid-19 demonstrate mild or moderate symptoms. However, 15 per cent of them have shown severity, especially after the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The main reason for the deaths due to Covid-19 is yet to be figured out. However, Covid-19 reportedly impairs interferon response and dysregulate inflammatory responses.

The results produced by Stanford University researchers suggested that patients with Covid-19 may have impaired capacity to produce IFN-alpha (Interferon alfa), a component produced by white blood cells to inhibit virus multiplication.

The researchers also believe that the molecules originate from elsewhere in the body, such as in the lungs, which is the site of infection.

“These three molecules and their receptors could represent attractive therapeutic targets in combating Covid-19,” said Bali Pulendran, PhD, senior author of the study and professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Stanford School of Medicine, in a statement.

His lab is now testing the therapeutic potential of blocking the spread of the virus in animal models of Covid-19.

Scientists also found increased levels of bacterial debris, such as bacterial DNA and cell-wall materials, in the blood of those Covid-19 patients with severe cases.

The more debris, the sicker the patient. This could contribute to the immune paralysis caused by SARS-CoV-2.

“One of the great mysteries of Covid-19 infections has been that some people develop severe disease, while others seem to recover quickly. Now we have some insights into why that happens,” Pulendran noted as quoted in the Science magazine.

Published on August 13, 2020

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