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Severe respiratory infections and autoimmunity

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In acute infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, antibodies directed against the body's molecules, so-called auto-antibodies, could be detected in some people's blood. According to several studies, such auto-antibodies contribute to COVID-19 being severe. A large international study involving DZL scientists shows that such auto-antibodies also play a role in other severe respiratory diseases.

The researchers analyzed blood samples from hospitalized patients for an increased risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, bacterial pneumonia, or virus-triggered influenza.

Antibodies against the body's messenger substances

More than 50 percent of the patients had autoantibodies in their blood. When the diseases studied were particularly severe, antibodies against the body's messenger substances of the immune system occurred more frequently in infectious diseases than non-infectious conditions.

Auto-antibodies associated with connective tissue diseases such as myositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or systemic sclerosis were often found in all studied conditions. Some of these only appeared during the course of the disease.

Although further studies with more participants are needed, there are indications that a survived infection can also set the stage for autoimmune disease.


Further information

Original publication: Feng A, Yang EY, Moore AR, Dhingra S, Chang SE, Yin X, Pi R, Mack EK, Völkel S, Geßner R, Gündisch M, Neubauer A, Renz H, Tsiodras S, Fragkou PC, Asuni AA, Levitt JE, Wilson JG, Leong M, Lumb JH, Mao R, Pinedo K, Roque J, Richards CM, Stabile M, Swaminathan G, Salagianni ML, Triantafyllia V, Bertrams W, Blish CA, Carette JE, Frankovich J, Meffre E, Nadeau KC, Singh U, Wang TT, Luning Prak ET, Herold S, Andreakos E, Schmeck B, Skevaki C, Rogers AJ, Utz PJ. Autoantibodies are highly prevalent in non-SARS-CoV-2 respiratory infections and critical illness. JCI Insight 8(3):e163150.

doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.163150.

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