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Study decodes link between long Covid and chronic fatigue

08:33 AM Jan 23, 2024 IST | IANS
study decodes link between long covid and chronic fatigue
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Wellington, Jan 22: Long Covid and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) are closely related, confirms a study.

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ME/CFS is a post-stressor fatigue condition that arises from multiple triggers.

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Of all people infected with SARS-CoV-2, about 10 per cent develop the chronic post-viral debilitating condition, long Covid.

Although long Covid is a heterogeneous condition, about half of cases have typical post-viral fatigue with onset and symptoms that are very similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

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However, a key question is whether these conditions are closely related.

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The pilot study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is the first comparative molecular study of the immune cell proteins of both conditions and the results "strongly affirm" the link between the two.

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The study found overlapping protein clusters and enriched molecular pathways particularly in immune functions, suggesting the two conditions have similar immune pathophysiology as a prominent feature, and mitochondrial functions involved in energy production were affected in both conditions.

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Further, the team found that the immune system activity of six long-term Covid patients one year after a Covid infection was dramatically different from five healthy controlled-group study participants, reflecting a chronic dysfunctional state.

Data gathered from those patients was found to be similar to data gathered from a group of nine diagnosed ME/CFS patients, who had suffered the condition for 16 years on average.

According to lead author Professor Warren Tate, long Covid from the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus is a specific example of ME/CFS, that has occurred in susceptible people from endemic viruses like glandular fever, and from small historical viral outbreaks geographically contained like the SARS-CoV-1 virus outbreak in 2003.

"It highlights within our community there are significant numbers of people debilitated now with disrupted immune systems, dysfunctional energy production, and disturbed brain regulation of their overall physiology that severely disrupts their family lives, ability to work and participate in their community's long-term, and that these people need support from all levels of society," Tate was quoted as saying by Voxy.com.

This also means that the conditions can benefit from a coordinated treatment strategy, said the researchers.

“Immunotherapy for treating specific features of a disturbed immune system for many diseases is in a revolutionary phase of development and should have potential for application to ME/CFS and Long Covid patients now the specific changes in their dysfunctional immune systems are being carefully documented," Tate said.

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