BREAKING! Researchers From Stellenbosch University Discover Micro Clots Containing Inflammatory Molecules That Could Be Contributing To Long COVID Issues!
Long COVID News
: Long COVID or Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) is becoming a major issue of importance as the emerging data is indicating that it could be a major threat to public healthcare in various countries in coming months and years as the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and its emerging variants continue to ravage the world and infection rates are still increasing.
The spectrum of emerging health/medical conditions arising in Long COVDI is ever increasing and there are non-stop emerging studies showing that a variety of occurrences could be contributing to these arising conditions.
Already a latest study has shown that more than 37% of all those infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will eventually develop one sort of ailment or another associated with Long COVID. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003773
Now a team of researchers from one of the most prestigious and advanced center of learning and research in the whole of the African continent: Stellenbosch University-South Africa has led a study that surprisingly found that micro clots containing inflammatory molecules could also be playing a key role in the arising conditions associated with Long COVID or Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC).
The study team utilized techniques including proteomics and fluorescence microscopy to study plasma samples from healthy individuals, individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), with acute COVID-19, and those with Long COVID/PASC symptoms.
The study findings showed that plasma samples from Long COVID/PASC still contain large anomalous (amyloid) deposits (microclots).
Alarmingly, the study findings also showed that these microclots in both acute COVID-19 and Long COVID/PASC plasma samples are resistant to fibrinolysis (compared to plasma from controls and T2DM), even after trypsinisation.
However after a second trypsinization, the persistent pellet deposits (microclots) were solubilized and various inflammatory molecules were discovered that are substantially increased in both the supernatant and trapped in the solubilized pellet deposits of acute COVID-19 and Long COVID/PASC, versus the equivalent volume of fully digested fluid of the control samples and T2DM.
Most importantly was a substantial increase in α(2)-antiplasmin (α2AP), various fibrinogen chains, as well as Serum Amyloid A (SAA) that were trapped in the solubilized fibrinolytic-resistant pellet deposits.
The study team concluded that “clotting pathologies in both acute COVID-19 infection and in Long COVID/PASC might benefit from following a regime of continued anticlotting therapy to support the fibrinolytic system function.”
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Cardiovascular Diabetology. https://cardiab.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12933-021-01359-7
The new research findings indicates tha
t an overload of various inflammatory molecules, literally "trapped" inside insoluble microscopic blood clots (micro clots), might be the cause of some of the lingering symptoms experienced by individuals with Long COVID.
The surprising discovery was made by Professor Dr Etheresia Pretorius, a researcher in the Department of Physiological Science at Stellenbosch University (SU), when she started looking at micro clots and their molecular content in blood samples from individuals with Long COVID.
Dr Pretorius told various media covering Long COVID News
, “We found high levels of various inflammatory molecules trapped in micro clots present in the blood of individuals with Long COVID. Some of the trapped molecules contain clotting proteins such as fibrinogen, as well as alpha (2)-antiplasmin."
Representative micrographs of Long COVID/PASC patients. Digested supernatant (PPP) after first trypsin digestion step, where supernatant was removed and thioflavin T (ThT) added to the remaining 10 µL. The marker thioflavin T (ThT) binds to anomalous microclots in the PPP. Credit: Stellenbosch University
It should be noted that Alpha (2)-antiplasmin is a molecule that prevents the breakdown of blood clots, while fibrinogen is the main clotting protein.
Typically under normal conditions the body's plasmin-antiplasmin system maintains a fine balance between blood clotting (the process by which blood thickens and coagulate to prevent blood loss after an injury) and fibrinolysis (the process of breaking down the fibrin in the coagulated blood to prevent blood clots from forming).
However with high levels of alpha (2)-antiplasmin in the blood of COVID-19 patients and individuals suffering from Long COVID, the body's ability to break down the clots are significantly inhibited.
Interestingly the insolubility of the micro clots became apparent when Dr Maré Vlok, a senior analyst in the Mass Spectrometry Unit at Stellenbosch University’s Central Analytical Facilities, noted that the blood plasma samples from individuals with acute COVID and Long COVID continued to deposit insoluble pellets at the bottom of the tubes after dilution (a process called trypsinization
Dr Vlok alerted Dr Pretorius to this observation and the anomalous occurrence was further investigated.
The study team from Stellenbosch University is now the first research group to have reported on finding micro clots in the blood samples from individuals with Long COVID, using fluorescence microscopy and proteomics analysis, thereby solving yet another puzzle associated with the disease.
Most importantly the study findings reveal the simultaneous presence of persistent anomalous micro clots and a pathological fibrinolytic system. This implies that the plasmin and antiplasmin balance may be central to pathologies in Long COVID, and provides further evidence that COVID-19 and now Long COVID have significant cardiovascular and clotting pathologies.
The study team recommends further detailed research into a regime of therapies to support clotting and fibrinolytic system function in individuals with lingering Long COVID symptoms.
The study team is now collaborating with vascular internist Dr Jaco Laubscher from Mediclinic Stellenbosch (Also a co-author on the study findings), to perform the same analysis on a larger sample of patients.
As of date the study team has collected blood from one hundred Long COVID individuals who participated in the Long COVID registry which launched in May 2021, as well as from 30 healthy individuals. The research is funded by the Long COVID Research Charitable Trust, a trust established with an initial donation made by Mr Koos Pretorius from ENSafrica. It is intended that this trust will be used as a vehicle to raise further funds for research into the causes and effective treatment of individuals suffering from Long COVID
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