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expert reaction to study finding a correlation between IFN-γ release and Long Covid Symptoms

A study published in Science Advances looks at a correlation between IFN-γ release and Long COVID symptoms. 


Prof. Peter JM Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Proconsul, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London, said:

“This interesting new study adds to data showing persistent immune activation is patients with Long COVID.

“The team from Cambridge have developed a test that can be performed on cells isolated from the blood of patients. They find that T lymphocytes (killer T cells) isolated from Long COVID patients spontaneously secrete interferon (IFN). It’s remarkable that there is such clear separation of the cases and the controls, given the heterogeneity of the disease.

“Is this finding also present in patients with different forms of Long COVID? Are the findings similar from cases of Long COVID that follow more severe acute disease? Were the cases developing Long COVID of similar age and sex to the controls? Did many of the cases have predisposing conditions?

“The finding begs the question, why do T cells from these patients make IFN? Does this reflect cells that are activated within inflamed tissue sites and are then migrate into the blood, and are they responding to virus still present somewhere? Is there some factor in the circulation that is activating T cells when cultured in vitro with monocytes?

“If other groups can reproduce the results and the method of measuring immune activation can be replicated in other laboratories, this finding has potential as a diagnostic biomarker. The findings require validation in larger cohorts but if confirmed might lead to trials of drug therapy aimed at the pathways identified in this study.”



‘Spontaneous, persistent, T cell–dependent IFN-γ release in patients who progress to Long Covid by Benjamin A. Krishna et al. was published in Science Advances at 19:00 UK time on Wednesday 21st February.



Declared interests

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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