Gut microbiota composition reflects disease severity and dysfunctional immune responses in patients with COVID-19 

by | Oct 30, 2021 | Commentary

By Yun Kit Yeoh, et al. with Commentary by Mark Bricca, ND

Below is a paper that explores the relationships between GI microbiota, Covid-19 severity, and long-Covid.

Not surprisingly, worse outcomes are associated with more pathogenic GI microbial strains and less overall GI microbial diversity–pretty much the same with cancer immunotherapy, which makes sense, since the mucosal associated lymphoid system (MALT) is Ground Zero for immune function.
For starters, I always encourage anyone on cancer immunotherapy to consume a variety of unpasteurized cultured foods daily.  I also recommend spore-based probiotics, which tend to promote gut biome diversity.  And I encourage consumption of a diversity of plant fibers, to feed all those critters we want inhabiting us.
I’m sure these same suggestions will be beneficial with respect to Covid-19, and it’s great to employ them preventively to keep our inner “soil” healthy and less “weed-prone.”  I think that one reason why most/all of the identified risk factors for more severe Covid-19 increase risk is because of their negative impacts on the health of the gut microbiome.
Interesting research–I thought I would share.  I maintain that, if we could only collectively focus on HEALTH (of each other and our planet… ), then we would be in *much* less danger and in *much* less need for increasingly high-tech fixes to increasingly complex problems.  Sadly, in much of the world, we don’t pay much attention to health (of humans or the planet), although I hope we can change this.  Until we do, we’ll be reliant on our attempted fixes, with varying degrees of success vs. failure.
Just like with cancer treatment, no amount of fancy supplements and high-tech intervention can make up for a poor diet and/or lifestyle.  It’s interesting how globally this is true.  And there’s a connection there in “globally”–Since the very health of our globe is now in danger.  I do not believe we’ll be able to heal it with technology alone–First, just like with our human patients, we need to understand its ecology and set to respecting and restoring that.  Technology can help, but it’s got to be used with right intention, with deep understanding, and with humility.

Mark Bricca, ND


As published in British Medical Journal on January 11, 2021

Objective Although COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, there is mounting evidence suggesting that the GI tract is involved in this disease. We investigated whether the gut microbiome is linked to disease severity in patients with COVID-19, and whether perturbations in microbiome composition, if any, resolve with clearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Methods In this two-hospital cohort study, we obtained blood, stool and patient records from 100 patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Serial stool samples were collected from 27 of the 100 patients up to 30 days after clearance of SARS-CoV-2. Gut microbiome compositions were characterised by shotgun sequencing total DNA extracted from stools. Concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers were measured from plasma.

Results Gut microbiome composition was significantly altered in patients with COVID-19 compared with non-COVID-19 individuals irrespective of whether patients had received medication (p<0.01). Several gut commensals with known immunomodulatory potential such as Faecalibacterium prausnitziiEubacterium rectale and bifidobacteria were underrepresented in patients and remained low in samples collected up to 30 days after disease resolution. Moreover, this perturbed composition exhibited stratification with disease severity concordant with elevated concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers such as C reactive protein, lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase.

Conclusion Associations between gut microbiota composition, levels of cytokines and inflammatory markers in patients with COVID-19 suggest that the gut microbiome is involved in the magnitude of COVID-19 severity possibly via modulating host immune responses. Furthermore, the gut microbiota dysbiosis after disease resolution could contribute to persistent symptoms, highlighting a need to understand how gut microorganisms are involved in inflammation and COVID-19.

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