New research has found that being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that can cause COVID-19, can trigger an immune response which lasts well after the initial infection and recovery, even if the person experiences mild symptoms or is asymptomatic.
Infection with a virus causes our bodies to unleash proteins called antibodies which are designed to protect our cells from the foreign invaders (the virus). In some circumstances, however, these antibodies can attack the body's own organs and tissues.
According to the research conducted by Cedars-Sinai, people who have had a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, have a wide variety of autoantibodies up to six months after they have fully recovered, including some which can cause injury to organs and tissues.
The study is the first to report not only the presence of elevated autoantibodies after mild or asymptomatic infection but their persistence over time.
"These findings help to explain what makes COVID-19 an especially unique disease," said Justyna Fert-Bober, Justyna Fert-Bober, PhD, research scientist in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute and co-senior author of the study.
"These patterns of immune dysregulation could be underlying the different types of persistent symptoms we see in people who go on to develop the condition now referred to as long COVID-19," Fert-Bober added.
The research has been published in the Journal of Translational Medicine.
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