rialSite continues to report on possible connections between the microbiome and COVID-19, including the results of a study sponsored by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Center for Gut Microbiota Research. Now, CUHK researchers are in the news again, showcasing a study indicating that the gut microbiome composition could possibly be associated with a person’s risk of developing long COVID months after initial SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study team concludes that a patient’s gut microbiome configuration at hospital admission could impact their susceptibility to long-term complications of COVID-19.

Published in the journal Gut, the study team led by Professor Francis Chan, Dean of Medicine and Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research, first found that 76% of COVID-19 patients in this study had developed some form of long COVID. What follows is a summary of recent study results:

Most COVID-19 patients with long COVID presented with the following conditions:

  • Fatigue (31%)
  • Poor memory (28%)
  • Hair loss (21%)
  • Anxiety (21%)
  • Difficulty in sleeping (21%)

Noteworthy, patients with long COVID were identified as having distinct gut microbiome dysbiosis

The CUHK team wrote that those patients with long COVID were identified as having “a less diverse gut microbiome, while the gut microbiome of patients who did not develop long COVID was similar to that of those who did not have COVID-19.”Subscribe to the Trialsitenews “COVID-19” ChannelNo spam – we promise

Moreover, the authors observed that the patients with long COVID had “significantly fewer favorable bacteria and a greater abundance of unfavorable bacteria than people who did not have COVID-19.

What bacterial species were associated with what category of long COVID symptoms?

81 bacterial species were identified as associated with the various categories of long COVID. For example, those COVID-19 patients with persistent respiratory problems “were strongly associated with opportunistic pathogenic microbes, while several species known to boost a person’s immunity were depleted in those with long COVID.

What are the depleted bacteria, associated with strong immunity, and associated with long COVID?

Bifidobacterium adolescentis, bifidobacterium longum and bifidobacterium pseudocatelunatum

Investigator POV

In the recent CUHK study synopsis, Dr. Chan went on the record, “Our findings demonstrate that an individual’s gut microbiome profile may affect their susceptibility to long-term complications of COVID-19. Considering the millions of people infected during the ongoing pandemic, the findings are an impetus for consideration of microbiota modulation to facilitate timely recovery and reduce the burden of post-acute COVID-19 syndrome.”

While Professor Siew Chien NG, Associate Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research at CU Medicine reports “This is the first study to demonstrate persistent gut dysbiosis at six months after recovery from COVID-19 and the link between altered gut microbiota and common lingering symptoms. Our findings of bacteria taxa and their association with specific post-acute symptoms highlight that different microbial patterns may contribute to the development of different long COVID symptoms and how the microbiome could potentially serve as a proxy for the prediction of the development of specific post-acute COVID-19 symptoms.”

About the CHUK Centre for Gut Microbiota Research

Established in 2018, CUHK’s Centre for Gut Microbiota Research is Asia’s first and Hong Kong’s only microbiota transplantation and research center supporting investigations to unravel the role of the gut microbiota in human health. Study teams here work to develop novel strategies for disease prevention and intervention.

Lead Research/Investigator

Francis Chan, Dean of Medicine and Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research

Siew Chien NG, Associate Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research at CU Medicine

Call to Action: Read the results in Gut.  

Link to Article

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