Hidden virus outbreaks in the intestines responsible for the persistence of symptoms?

Long Covid is the long-term consequence of an acute infection with SARS-CoV-2. A long and debilitating disease, it is difficult for doctors to diagnose due to the great diversity of symptom experienced by patients. The scientific community is looking for biomarkers that can make it easier for doctors to identify people with prolonged Covid. A research team at Boston Hospital in Massachusetts studied the persistence of antigens of coronavirus in people still affected by COVID-19 at least four weeks after the initial infection.

Circulating antigens, in the blood of people with long Covid

The study, in pre-publication and carried out on a small group of volunteers (63 volunteers), some of whom diagnosed with “long Covid”, detected fragments of the S protein (the subunit 1), all protein S, protein N (the nucleocapsid) in the plasma of the participants. The follow-up lasted 12 months and in 65% of the patients one of the three antigens was identified at some point during the follow-up; being the whole protein S the most frequent antigen. In patients who have COVID-19 but not aftermath, these circulating antigens are absent. By themselves, these results are not strong enough to say that circulating antigens of the coronavirus they are not a reliable marker to diagnose the entire population, nor that they have any implication in the symptoms of prolonged Covid.

Still a long search

But the clues pile up. They come from independent studies, often modest, and point in the same direction: the coronavirus could persist as an active reservoir in various organs of the human body. A study conducted after the death of 44 patients indicates the presence of coronavirus RNA in respiratory and cardiac tissues and in the intestines up to 230 days after the onset of symptoms. In children, the severe form of covidcalled MISC or PIMS, is due in part to an alteration of the intestinal barrier by the virus. In this case, pockets of active virus also form in the intestines and release viral antigens into the bloodstream. The coronavirus also seems to unbalance the intestinal flora in people with long-term Covid.

the bowels appear as an important organ in the etiology of the long Covid. Despite these consistent observations, no study to date has accurately demonstrated the origin(s) of prolonged Covid. Viral reservoirs in the body, persistent antigens, but alsoinflammation There are three factors that are considered to be involved in prolonged Covid, the causal link between its presence and symptoms remains to be demonstrated.

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