The severity of Covid-19 varies from patient to patient. Some people get an asymptomatic form of the disease. Others suffer from moderate or severe forms. We know that people said to be vulnerable are more likely to show severe symptoms of the Coronavirus. To find out more, researchers at the University of Hong Kong looked at all the parameters that could influence the severity of the disease.
They found that bacteria in the gut can be the cause of a severe form of Covid-19. Their study is based on stool samples taken from 100 patients who tested positive for Coronavirus who were treated in two hospitals in Hong Kong. Their research revealed that the composition of the gut microbiota underwent changes that persisted in volunteers.
For researchers, this means that the disruption of the gut microbiota is linked to the worsening of the disease.
The gut microbiota undergoes lasting changes
The microbiota is the collection of bacteria that make up our intestinal flora. It plays a role in the regulation of immune responses. Sometimes its composition is modified by viruses such as H1N1 or influenza. In the case of Covid-19, the changes in the gut microbiota are unlike anything researchers have observed before.
“The composition of the gut microbiota has been significantly altered in patients with Covid-19 compared to individuals who have not contracted the virus whether or not they have received medication. "
Scientists also noted that changes in the gut microbiota of patients with Coronavirus were still visible even 30 days after recovery.
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A change that involves an increase in cytokine concentration
In their study, the researchers indicated that patients who suffered from a severe form had an increase in the concentration of cytokines and chemokines in their blood plasma. They also noted a "substantial change" in the gastrointestinal tract during infection.
“These results suggest that the composition of the gut microbiota is associated with the magnitude of the immune response to Covid-19 and subsequent tissue damage and therefore may play a role in regulating the severity of the disease. "
Ultimately, scientists hope to use the results of this study to understand why some symptoms of Coronavirus persist even after patients have recovered.