Covid-19: Why do some people experience effects for months?
A new scientific study reveals “unique features” of the new coronavirus, due to which patients face effects for months.
A new scientific study from King’s College London sheds light on the “unique features” of the new coronavirus, which can make some patients experience the effects of the virus for months, but also examine the possible lung damage that can be caused by the infection. . The study by King’s College London in collaboration with the University of Trieste and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biology in Italy shows the “unique characteristics” of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and may explain why patients suffer from “long Covid ».
Difficulty breathing and fatigue, “remnants” of Covid-19
Patients who test positive for coronavirus may experience symptoms such as loss of smell and taste and blood clots. Some patients who recover from the infection may experience the effects of the disease for months, with the feeling of fatigue and difficulty breathing persisting, a phenomenon also known as “long covid”. At the same time, the number of studies that have analyzed the organs of patients with Covid-19 is limited, which means that the characteristics of the disease are still largely unknown.
At the beginning of the pandemic, from February to April 2020, the researchers analyzed the organs of some patients who died from the new coronavirus infection at the University Hospital of Trieste. The team took lung, heart, liver and kidney samples to test the virus’ behavior. The findings showed extensive lung damage in most cases, with patients experiencing profound disruption of normal lung structure and the conversion of respiratory tissue to fibrous material.
What causes lung damage?
Nearly 90% of patients developed two additional features that were unique to Covid-19 respiratory infection compared to other forms of pneumonia. according to the researchers, patients showed extensive blood clotting of the pulmonary arteries and veins (thrombosis). Secondly, several lung cells were unusually large and had many nuclei, resulting from the fusion of different cells into simple large cells.
The formation of these unusually large cells is due to the protein – spike of the virus, which, according to the researchers, is used by the coronavirus to enter the cell. With the protein-spike on the surface of the virus-infected cells, it stimulates their fusion with other normal lung cells, which may be “hidden” behind thrombosis and inflammation.
“Long Covid” and structural changes in the lungs
Also, along with the infected oversized cells, the study showed the long-term persistence of the viral genome in respiratory cells and in cells that line blood vessels. The presence of these infected cells can cause the major structural changes observed in the lungs, which can persist for several weeks or months and could eventually explain the “long Covid”. The researchers found no obvious signs of viral infection or prolonged inflammation in other organs. Professor Dr. Mauro Giacca, of the British Heart Foundation Center at King’s College London, said: “The findings show that Covid-19 is not just a disease caused by the death of virus-infected cells, but it is likely to be the result of these abnormal cells that remain in the lungs for a long time “.
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