Epstein-Barr may play a role in long-term COVID; coronavirus can hinder the processing of blood sugar by organs

People queue for COVID-19 testing in Macau, China, June 20, 2022. REUTERS/John Mak

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June 27 (Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies of COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to confirm the findings and has yet to be certified by peer review.

Epstein-Barr virus may play a role in some long-term COVID cases

COVID-19 can reactivate a common virus that lurks unseen in most people, and that effect could increase patients’ risk of certain long-term symptoms, according to preliminary findings of a study. More than 90% of adults are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Most remained asymptomatic, but some developed mononucleosis as adolescents or young adults.

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Among 280 patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections, including 208 with long-term COVID, researchers found that four months after diagnosis, fatigue and difficulty thinking and reasoning were more common in study participants with immune cells in their blood that showed signs of recent EBV reactivation. However, these signs of reactivation were not linked to other long-term COVID findings, such as gastrointestinal or heart and lung problems. And EBV itself was not found in patients’ blood, suggesting that reactivation is likely transient and occurs during acute COVID-19, Dr. Timothy Henrich of the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues reported on medRxiv prior to peer review.

The findings do not prove that EBV reactivation caused patients’ symptoms, Henrich said. And even if it did, “There are likely many other causes of long-term COVID symptoms, such as persistent SARS-CoV-2 virus in tissues over time and a dysregulated immune system that can result from viral persistence,” he said. he. “Further study of different tissues is urgently needed, as are studies that follow participants from the time of acute infection to months or years after.”

SARS-CoV-2 may hinder blood sugar processing by organs

Infection with the coronavirus impairs the activity of multiple genes involved in the body’s chemical processes, including blood sugar metabolism, and for the first time, researchers have seen these effects not only in patients’ airways, but elsewhere in the world. body.

Japanese researchers analyzed blood and tissue samples from patients with mild or severe COVID-19 and from healthy volunteers, and evaluated the “expression” – or activity levels – of genes that regulate the so-called insulin/IGF signaling pathway, which in turn affects many. bodily functions necessary for metabolism, growth and fertility. “The results were striking,” study leader Iichiro Shimomura of the University of Osaka said in a statement. “Infection with SARS-CoV-2 affected the expression of insulin/IGF signaling pathway components in the lung, liver, adipose tissue and pancreatic cells.” The resulting disruptions in blood sugar metabolism likely contribute to the effects of COVID-19 on organs, the researchers said.

The changes, which they attribute in part to the immune system’s inflammatory response to the virus, were more pronounced in patients with severe COVID-19, they reported in the magazine Metabolism† In test-tube experiments, dexamethasone — known to be beneficial for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — helped alleviate the virus’s adverse effects on genes.

The new findings may provide clues as to why some patients develop metabolic complications during or after COVID-19, such as insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia and the onset of diabetes, the researchers said.

New data supports 5 days of isolation plus 5 days of masking

A new study supports current guidelines requiring a five-day isolation period for COVID-19 infections, followed by five days of strict masking to prevent transmission of cases that remain culture-positive, researchers said.

Boston University School of Medicine researchers collected daily nasal swabs from 92 vaccinated students and staff infected with the Delta or Omicron variants of the coronavirus for analysis by PCR and with the type of rapid antigen testing available for at least 10 days. use at home. Of these young and otherwise healthy adults, only 17% still tested positive after five days, and none were contagious more than 12 days after symptoms began, the researchers reported in Clinical infectious diseases† The results were similar regardless of variant or vaccine booster status, and negative rapid antigen tests were highly reliable, according to the report.

While rapid antigen testing “may provide reassurance in the absence of infectivity … a full 10 days is needed to prevent transmission of the 17 percent of individuals who remain culture positive after isolation,” said study leader Dr. Tara Bouton in a statement.

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Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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