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Nerve damage in long COVID may arise from immune dysfunction

0 2 years ago

The authors of the current study note that there is an overlap between long COVID symptoms and those of small-fiber polyneuropathy (SFN)Trusted Source

, which affects the small nerve fibers in the skin.

Investigations into the relationship between long COVID and neuropathy could help clinicians better evaluate and treat patients.

Recently, researchers from Harvard Medical School examined individuals with no prior neuropathy history who developed neuropathic conditions after recovering from a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

They found that some people with long COVID have long lasting nerve damage resulting from infection-triggered immune dysfunction.

“The information helps us better understand the pathophysiology that may underlie some long COVID symptoms, which can guide treatments to bring symptomatic relief and validation to patients,” Dr. Mary Kelley, one of the authors of the study, told Medical News Today.

Patient recruitment

For the study, the researchers recruited 17 people with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, no prior history of neuropathy, and a neuromuscular referral. The participants met the criteria for having long COVID, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s)Trusted Source

definition. Of the participants, 69% were female, 19% were of Latinx ethnicity, and 94% were white.

The researchers tracked standardized symptoms, clinical examinations, objective neurodiagnostic test results, and outcomes for each participant over an average of 1.4 years.

As most of the participants had received symptom-relieving medications, the researchers examined potential preventive treatments, too.

Among the 17 people in the study, 16 had mild COVID-19, while one was in intensive care with ventilatory support for a month.

Diagnostic tests for neuropathy revealed that 62.5% of lower leg skin biopsies and 50% of upper thigh biopsies and autonomic function tests confirmed SFN.


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