Impact of Gut Microbiota on COVID-19 Severity
COVID-19 infection not only attacks the tissues of the respiratory tract, it also disrupts the composition of the intestinal microbiota (gut flora), which impacts the severity of the course of the disease. The consequences persist long after the viral infection has been overcome.
A new study involving experts from the State University of Campinas has examined the functional role of the gut microbiota in the long-term consequences of COVID-19. The results were published on the English language pre-publication server “Research Square”.
Effects of COVID-19 on Gut Health
After falling ill with COVID-19, there are often long-term consequences that significantly impact the lives of those affected. The researchers explain that the question arose as to whether there could be a link with changes in the intestinal microbiota.
In their investigations, the experts have now found that the gut microbiota after contracting COVID-19 (up to four months after the first positive test) shows a remarkable dominance of so-called Enterobacteriaceae strains with a multi-resistant phenotype, compared to to healthy people. of a control group.
Increase in pneumonia caused by gut microbiota
After the team transferred participants’ feces to germ-free mice, animals that received samples from people with COVID-19 showed more severe pneumonia and, additionally, increased susceptibility to lung infections caused by a resistant strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Cognitive performance has declined
These mice also showed poorer cognitive performance, which was linked to increased expression of TNF-α, decreased levels of something called neurotrophic factor BDNF, and post-synaptic density protein PSD-95 in the brain. , said the experts. Additionally, changes in various biochemical signaling pathways also occurred.
These changes were observed in the absence of SARS-CoV-2, so they are due to changes in the gut microbiota, the researchers say. The study also clarified that the effects of a SARS-CoV-2 infection on the gut microbiota persist even after affected individuals have long since overcome the acute viral infection.
Healthy bacteria prevent brain dysfunction
However, the brain dysfunction observed in a mouse model of coronavirus infection was partially prevented by modulating the microbiota with treatment with the probiotic bacterium Bifidobacterium longum 51A, the team reports.
Overall, the results of the new research work highlight the importance of the microbiota as a target for therapies to treat so-called post-COVID sequelae, summarize the experts. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Viviani Mendes de Almeida, Daiane F. Engel, Mayra Fernanda Ricci, Clênio Silva Cruz, Icaro Santos Lopes, et al. : Gut Microbiota of Patients with Mild COVID-19 Cause Alterations in Mice That Resemble Post-COVID Syndrome; in: Research Square (published 06/22/2022), Research Square
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.