COVID Infection May Lead to Influx of Autoantibody Production

June 4, 2021

Yesterday, The University of Birmingham published the results of a study investigating the autoimmune response of COVID-19 patients. More specifically, researchers explored the type and frequency of autoantibody production in both short and long-term symptoms. Autoantibodies – antibodies produced by the immune system that can cause autoimmune disease by targeting one or more of the body’s own proteins – have recently been of particular interest to researchers looking into COVID-19. To learn more about autoantibodies in the development of autoimmune diseases, check out our article. 

Graphic explaining role of autoantibodies in autoimmune disease and covid-19utoantibodies in AD and COVID-19
In their study, researchers split test subjects into four cohorts to compare the common autoantibodies produced in COVID-19 patients versus non-COVID-19 patients. The first cohort consisted of a control group of non-COVID-19 patients in the intensive treatment unit (ITU). The other cohorts included patients with acute cases of COVID-19 in the ITU and patients with previously severe cases of COVID-19 who had since left the ITU. The final test group included patients with mild cases of COVID-19 who had not been admitted to the ITU. For each of these groups, the researchers tested patient samples for specific autoantibodies. 

The study, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), found that COVID-19 patients had significantly more autoantibodies than those in the control group. The subgroups of COVID-19 patients who exhibited severe active or recovered cases also demonstrated significantly more frequent instances of possessing autoantibodies than the control group. Mild cases exhibited autoantibodies in their system less frequently but still more than the control group.

These findings imply that COVID-19 cases are still open-ended and do not necessarily resolve when patients are no longer contagious.