New research finds a connection between destructive white blood cells and a more severe disease course in patients with COVID-19.
“We found that patients with COVID-19 infection have higher blood levels of neutrophil extracellular traps, also called NETs, which are a product of an inflammatory type of neutrophil cell death called NETosis,” says first author Yu (Ray) Zuo, M.D., a Michigan Medicine rheumatologist.
Zuo worked on the study with Yogen Kanthi, M.D., a cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center, and Jason Knight, M.D., Ph.D., a rheumatologist at Michigan Medicine, who study inflammation and neutrophils. The researchers analyzed blood samples from 50 patients with COVID-19 for this publication.
Zuo and colleagues say, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to better understand what causes the inflammatory storm and blood clots triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection—a storm that leads to respiratory failure and a requirement for mechanical ventilation in many patients. They believe NETs may be relevant to many aspects of COVID-19 research, given that thrombosis and inflammation are hallmarks of severe infection.
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