Thursday, 28 October 2021 12:45

Covid-19: Early messenger activation prevents viral combat Featured

Using cells from patients, researchers at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, together with scientists from the German Rheumatism Research Center Berlin (DRFZ), have identified an important component in the progression of severe Covid-19 cases. They were able to demonstrate that NK cells, which normally contribute to the early control of SARS-CoV-2, are hindered by the early release of TGFβ.

The neurotransmitter TGFβ normally acts among other tasks on the innate immune system and dampens it. In the case of severe covid-19 disease, however, this is fatal, as cells of the innate immune system - in that case - natural killer (NK) cells - are prevented from fighting the virus quickly and adequately. This is what the team of scientists has now discovered.

For the study, the researchers isolated NK cells from the blood of men and women with varying degrees of COVID-19, examined their functionality in the laboratory, and analyzed the genes of immune cells. In contrast to other inflammatory infections, the messenger TGFβ is produced early in covid-19.

Based on their findings, the researchers believe that a timely inhibition of TGFβ may prevent severe courses of COVID-19.

Original publication:
Witkowski, M., Tizian, C., Ferreira-Gomes, M. et al. Untimely TGFβ responses in COVID-19 limit antiviral functions of NK cells. Nature (2021).