USA – Autoimmune response found in many with COVID-19

In a small study, about half of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had antibodies in their blood that could mistakenly attack the body’s own proteins and tissues. More work is needed to see if these autoantibodies contribute to the symptoms of “long COVID,” or have other effects later in life.

More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, much about how the human body responds to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, remains unclear. Some people have a severe or fatal reaction to infection, while others show no obvious symptoms. Some people bounce back quickly. Others experience so-called “long COVID,” symptoms that persist long past recovery from the initial stages of illness.

Researchers are beginning to understand how the human immune system contributes to the varied responses to COVID-19. Autoantibodies—immune system proteins that mistakenly target the body’s own tissues—may underlie some of this variation. Autoantibodies are found in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Many people with low levels of autoantibodies in their blood have no obvious symptoms…