Experts revealed that severe cases of “Covid-19” lead to a mysterious condition, where the body’s immune system spreads and begins to attack healthy cells, instead of only infected ones.
This prolonged state of self-sabotage is known as a “cytokine storm,” and it can be fatal, but researchers have struggled to understand how it works and how to treat it.
Now, new research has focused on how coronavirus infection develops in mice and finds that a cytokine storm is a vicious cycle, leading to the overproduction of two signaling proteins called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) and interferon (INF) -gamma, where they operate. Together to cause a dangerous condition that can lead to inflammation, organ damage, and ultimately death.
But the study, which was conducted on mice, found that the use of pre-existing antibodies designed to combat these proteins is an effective way to prevent death in severe cases of “Covid-19”.
Study co-author Thirumala Devi Kaneganti, from the Department of Immunology, St. Jude, Tennessee: “Understanding the pathways and mechanisms driving this inflammation is critical to developing effective treatment strategies. We have identified cytokines that activate inflammatory cell death pathways and have great potential for treating Covid-19 and other extremely deadly diseases, including sepsis.” .
Cytokines are tiny signaling proteins that are pumped by immune system cells to tell other cells what to do. They are vital in the immune response, as they can limit the spread of the virus, but some also lead to inflammation, which is a normal part of the immune response, and sees white blood cells flow to the site of infection to fight them.
However, inflammation is also responsible for some autoimmune disorders, such as arthritis, in which the body causes inflammation even though there is no cause.
Early in the epidemic, evidence of overactive cytokine production was observed, and scientists coined the term “cytokine storm” to describe the condition, which leads to severe inflammation in the respiratory system in addition to lung damage, organ failure and death in acute “Covid-19” patients, but How it works has remained a mystery until now.
Dr. Canigante focused on the most common cytokines in “Covid-19” patients, and conducted controlled experiments on mice. And they revealed that there is no single cytokine that caused the condition that was seen in “Covid-19” patients.
Then the researchers began combining cytokines and transforming 28 different combinations, with only one mating triggering the lethal response.
It turns out that TNF-alpha and INF-gamma cause a process called PANoptosis, which leads to three cell-killing pathways: parenteral, apoptosis and necrosis, all of which work in slightly different ways, but they are all specific mechanisms designed to kill cells.
The presence of elevated cytokines leads to the targeting and killing of too many cells, and the accumulation of dead cells fuels inflammation. This, in turn, triggers more cytokines, creating a vicious cycle.
In mice not infected with the coronavirus, the researchers introduced a mixture of TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma, and found that they caused damage similar to what was seen in “Covid-19” cases.
By mapping these pathways, researchers now know which drugs might target the condition.
Antibodies that target and neutralize cytokines are already present and are used to treat other inflammatory diseases.
Dr Canigante said the results link inflammatory cell death induced by TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma to COVID-19.
The results also indicate that therapies targeting this combination of cytokines are candidates for rapid clinical trials not only to treat “Covid-19”, but also many other fatal disorders associated with the cytokine storm.
Source: Daily Mail