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COVID-19 is a multi-organ metabolic disease, study finds


Melbourne, Aug 24: Scientists have developed a predictive metabolic model for COVID-19 infection that shows multi-organ effects of the disease.

COVID-19 is a multi-organ metabolic disease, study finds

Researchers from Murdoch University in Australia and the University of Cambridge in the UK collected blood plasma specimens from a group of COVID-19 positive patients. They matched them with the samples of a control group of healthy age and body mass matched participants to determine the key metabolic differences between the groups.

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The samples revealed a profound biological fingerprint of the disease that includes elements of liver dysfunction, dyslipidaemia, diabetes, and coronary heart disease risk, the researchers said. These have all been found to be related to the long-term effects in patients that were affected by the original SARS virus, they said.

These fingerprints mark systemic changes in biochemistry and are irrespective of the time of collection during the active disease process and independent of the overall severity of respiratory symptoms, according to the researchers.

"Perhaps the most important observation is that the disease involves multiple organs and the majority of the patients show signs of newly presenting diabetes and liver damage irrespective of the severity of the lung symptoms,” said Professor Jeremy Nicholson from Murdoch University.

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"Many of the metabolic features that we pick up are not part of routine clinical chemical testing, and this has immediate patient management implications because these morbidities might be occurring under the radar of the current testing paradigms as they can be quite subtle," said Nicholson.

The researchers said these emergent pathologies need to be managed at the same time as the acute respiratory problems to optimise patient recovery. "What we do not know is how persistent these symptoms are or whether they change long terms disease risks for recovered patients," Nicholson said.

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