Anti-NET Autoantibodies May Be a Factor in Severe COVID

July 20, 2021

Recently, a study was published in which samples from 328 COVID-19 patients were measured for an autoantibody presence which protects neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) from being destroyed.

NETs are extracellular webs of DNA and proteins that protect against infection and have been implicated in the pathology of many immune-mediated diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ANCA vasculitis.

Anti-NET antibodies disrupt the body’s ability to achieve immune homeostasis during a COVID-19 infection. These antibodies are also likely to contribute to the inflammatory storm which leads to severe COVID-19, including blood clots. Patients with increased levels of anti-NET antibodies were less likely to disintegrate the toxins, as the anti-NET antibodies coat the NETs, creating a barrier for the body to rid itself of the toxins. Additionally, patients who required ventilation had a “greater burden of anti-NET antibodies” than those whose symptoms did not require oxygen supplementation.

Anti-NETs have also been found in those with antiphospholipid syndrome, and present similar outcomes as COVID-19 patients. It is unknown how the body creates these autoantibodies; further studies may shed light on the persistence behind many long COVID symptoms, as well as the pathology of autoimmune disease.