(ANSA) – ROME, Aug 23 – A critical component of the molecular differences between significant and mildly symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection has been identified in the interferon response in the upper airways. High levels of antiviral response in the upper airways – which are less common in older patients – promote better control of the virus and put them at lower risk of serious complications. The study was published in the journal Cell and was born out of a collaboration between the Laboratory of Microbiology and Virology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan and the Department of Immunology at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital.
“We found that high levels of type III and, to a lesser extent, type I interferon, characterize the upper airways of low-risk patients with less severe forms of the disease and a high viral load. In other words, the presence of the virus induces a response that not only serves as an alarm bell for further of subsequent immune responses, but also to effectively contain the virus at this level,” explains Nicasio Mancini, director of the San Raffaele School of Specialization in Microbiology and Virology.
“A less effective response, as observed in the older subjects we studied, could lead to more massive interference in the lower respiratory tract, where interferons, although present, are no longer able to control infection and the massive production of other inflammatory mediators.” The data further highlights how interferon plays opposite roles at different anatomical sites along the respiratory tract.”
Massimo Clemente, director of the San Raffaele Laboratory of Microbiology and Virology, adds: “This work, in addition to providing some motivating and important confirmations regarding clinical practice for Covid patients — young patients with viral elevation effectively resolve symptoms without affecting the lower body. The respiratory system–provides an unimaginable indicator until a few years ago of the importance of nonspecific immunity in the context of a viral disease: an indicator that should be subject to further investigation and application.”
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