Antibodies That Turn Against The Immune System Cause Nearly
Get authentic, real-time news that helps you fight COVID-19 better.
Install PlexusMD App for doctors. It's free.
“Rogue Antibodies” that fight against the body’s immune system are responsible for the death of one out of every five Covid-19 patients, according to a new study. Researchers found that autoantibodies or the antibodies which attack and neutralize elements of the immune system are a key factor behind the severe decline in health and potential death in people with Covid infections.

According to Scientific American, the study whose findings were published in the journal Science Immunology last month provides evidence to support observations previously made by the same team who conducted the study. Researchers found that close to 10% of people who had severe COVID-19 infections had autoantibodies that attack and block certain types of protein molecules known as type 1 interferons. Type 1 interferon plays a critical role in the body’s defense against viral infections.

The large study involved 3595 patients from 38 countries who were critical with Covid-19 and were under intensive care. Researchers focused on detecting autoantibodies that killed off “lower, more physiologically relevant” concentrations of interferons. Overall, they found autoantibodies in 13.6% of patients in the study. They also found patients over the age of 80 were more susceptible to possess autoantibodies than people under 40.

In a previous study conducted last year, during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers had suspected that autoantibodies might actually be a cause of severe cases of Covid-19, rather than a consequence. In order to further determine the veracity of their theory, they collected blood samples from over 35,000 healthy people before the pandemic.

From the samples, they found 0.18% of people between ages 18 and 69 already had autoantibodies against type 1 interferons. They also found that the proportion of people with autoantibodies increased with age. Over 1% of people between the ages of 70 and 79, and over 3% of people over the age of 80 had autoantibodies in their bloodstream.