Study Links Severe COVID-19 to Increased Self-Attacking Antibodies | Information Center


Plus, the vaccination is less intensely inflammatory than an actual infection, Utz said, so there’s less likelihood of the immune system being confused by generating antibodies against its own signaling proteins or against the body’s own tissues.

“Patients who, in response to vaccination, rapidly mount appropriate antibody responses against the viral spike protein should be less likely to develop autoantibodies,” he said.

Identify autoantibody triggers

Indeed, a recent study in Nature to which Utz contributed has shown that, unlike infection with SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer does not trigger any detectable generation of autoantibodies in recipients.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated and you’re thinking, ‘Most people who get COVID get over it and are fine,’ remember you can’t know ahead of time when you will receive COVID-19, it will be a mild case, “Utz said.

“If you get a bad case, you could set yourself up for a life of trouble because the virus can trigger autoimmunity. We cannot yet say that you will definitely get an autoimmune disease – we haven’t studied patients long enough to know if these autoantibodies are still there a year or two later, although we hope to study that – but you certainly could. I wouldn’t want to take this chance.

Utz intends to study blood samples from people infected with SARS-CoV-2 who are asymptomatic or who have shown mild symptoms of COVID-19. This could help determine if massive overactivation of the immune system, which does not occur in mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic people, is the cause of the problems, or if the mere molecular resemblance of the SARS-CoV-2 proteins is sufficient to trigger the generation of autoantibodies.

Utz is a fellow of Stanford Bio-X, Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection, and Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute.

The other authors of the Stanford study are Maja Artandi, MD, clinical associate professor of primary care and population health; Linda Barman, MD, clinical assistant professor of primary care and population health; postdoctoral researcher Saborni Chakraborty, PhD; life science technicians Iris Chang and Evan Do; former Principal Scientist Peggie Cheung, PhD; Sharon Chinthrajah, MD, associate professor of pulmonary and critical care; former technician Shaurya Dhingra; former undergrad Alex Ren Hsu; former Principal Investigator Alex Kuo, PhD; principal investigator Monali Manohar, PhD; former research program director Rong Mao, PhD; former graduate student Abigail Powell, PhD; Rajan Puri, MD, clinical assistant professor of primary care and population health; Rich Wittman, MD, clinical assistant professor of primary care and population health; Neera Ahuja, MD, clinical professor of medicine; Pras Jagannathan, MD, assistant professor of infectious diseases and microbiology and immunology; Peter Kim, PhD, professor of biochemistry; Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics; William Robinson, MD, PhD, professor of immunology and rheumatology; Upinder Singh, MD, professor of infectious diseases and geographic medicine and microbiology and immunology; and Taia Wang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of infectious diseases and microbiology and immunology.

Other researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Philipps Marburg University, University of Tennessee, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente Northern California contributed to the work.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grants AI105343, AI112521, AI082630, AI201085, AI123539, AI117950, UC4 DK112217, UM1-AI144288, PA30-CA016520, P30-AI0450080, 5U19AI057229-1779, HL177A1 AI130839, U19 AI104209, R01 AI139119, U19 AI111825, R01 AI125197-04, U01 AI150741-01S1 and U54 CA260517), the Henry Gustav Floren Trust, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, the Sean N. Parker Center, the Frank Quattrone and Denise Foderaro Family Research Fund, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, Allen Institute for Immunology, CEND COVID Catalyst Fund, Chen Family Research Fund, Carreras Foundation, Foundation for Pathobiochemistry and Molecular Diagnostics, Universities Giessen and Marburg Lung Center, the German Center for Pulmonary Research and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft .

The Stanford Department of Medicine also supported the work.

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