The new coronavirus is more harmful than other respiratory viruses and affects the immune human in a unique way. This was the finding of scientists at the Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute research centers, both in England. They compared the ways in which the new coronavirus with those of H5N1 and H7N9 (Influenza A), as well as Mers-Cov and Sars-Cov (responsible for previous coronavirus epidemics).
Like the other microorganisms in the study, the new coronavirus can cause an increase in cytokine production. These components are responsible for regulating the immune response of the human body. One of the functions of cytokines, in fact, is to cause inflammation, so that the body begins the process of healing injuries or infections.
Despite being a beneficial process - combating unwanted external agents - excessive production of cytokines leads to an overactive immune response. This reaction is known as a cytokine storm and can lead to death.
That's because this storm of cytokines caused by respiratory viruses attracts many inflammatory cells into the lung tissue. This can trigger respiratory syndromes, multiple organ failure and death.
Researchers from the Korcsmáros Group, from the Earlham Institute, joined clinical virologist Claire Shannon-Lowe, from the University of Birmingham, England, to analyze scientific studies and observe how the human immune system responds to infections by the new coronavirus and other respiratory viruses that cause cytokine storm.
“As the onset of the cytokine storm is one of the main factors behind the mortality rates that we see in a given group of patients with Covid-19, it is essential to understand why this happens”, says Marton Olbei, project leader and member of the Korcsmáros Group.
Although the new coronavirus shows results similar to H5N1, H7N9 (responsible for Influenza A), Mers-Cov and Sars-Cov, it was considered the most dangerous among the microorganisms analyzed. This is because it attacks specific cytokine regulators, which can lead to diseases much more serious - not by the virus, but by the immune response of the patient's organism.
In addition, the new coronavirus has a unique tendency to contain the increase in specific cytokines. “For a subgroup of patients infected with the new coronavirus, the overreaction of the immune system is a real danger. We are discovering which specific parts of the organism react in a potentially harmful way to these viruses ”, explains Marton.
Scientists are now looking to identify and map the human body's immune responses against the new coronavirus. This should assist clinical specialists in identifying interventions to alleviate the cytokine storm that may be used in some cases of Covid-19.
Source: Medical Xpress