Could COVID-19 Trigger Autoimmunity?
Updated: May 6
Before you read this, please know that COVID-19 & autoimmunity/autoimmune diseases research is new and complex & there’s still more research being done in this area.
It's no secret that viruses can trigger autoimmunity. One of the ways viruses do that is by cross reactivity or molecular mimicry.
Molecular mimicry is when viral proteins look similar to human tissues and your immune system is not able to differentiate between the two.
Since it cannot tell the difference between the two it makes antibodies that can bind to both the virus and your own tissues.
So during an infection, the antibodies your immune system makes will be able to bind to both the virus and your own tissue, flagging your immune system to attack both!
There's already evidence for viruses triggering autoimmune disease like Parvovirus B19, Epstein-Barr-virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes virus-6, HTLV-1, Hepatitis A and C virus, and Rubella virus.
According to this study, "these viruses have been implicated in the initiation of chronic inflammatory or autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren's syndrome, primary biliary cholangitis, multiple sclerosis, polymyositis, uveitis, Henoch Schonlein Purpura, Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic arthritis, systemic sclerosis, Hashimoto thyroiditis and autoimmune hepatitis."¹
The SARS-COV-2 virus is looking to be no different.
There are already articles coming out that this SARS viral infection or vaccination creates an immune response that can cross -react with human tissue resulting in autoimmunity or possibly an autoimmune disease.²
One study is already looking at this possibility. This study used human monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 proteins, "and we found reactivity with 28 out of 55 tested human antigens."²
That's a bit concerning.
The paper goes into these concerns. First, the study used similar monoclonal antibodies that are used for treatment against coronavirus and human monoclonal antibodies mimic the antibodies your immune system might naturally make towards COVID-19.
Second, cross-reactivity may be due to the systemic inflammation caused by COVID-19.
Third, this cross-reactivity could explain the lingering symptoms experienced after recovering from COVID-19 and the progression of disorders in other body systems.
Fourth, this could predict adverse reactions to treatment and/ or vaccines.
The study found cross-reactivity with human monoclonal anti-SARS-COV-2 antibodies and these human tissues (they also tested rabbit antibodies but I didn't include those results here):
Zonulin: responsible for maintaining your gut barrier
Occludin: responsible for maintaining your gut barrier
"These cross-reactive interactions may lead to permeability of the lung barrier, gut-barrier, and the blood-brain barrier in susceptible individuals"²
Just a reminder that having a leaky gut can promote autoimmunity & autoimmune diseases.
Transglutaminase-2 (tTG-2): an enzyme in the intestinal mucosa that plays a role in celiac disease.
Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO): Enzyme involved in thyroid hormone production.
"These findings suggest that antibodies developed against SARS-CoV-2 may promote autoimmune thyroiditis."²
Central nervous system target proteins: neurofilament protein (NFP-very strong reaction), myelin basic protein (MBP), glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (GAD-65), beta-amyloid, alpha-synuclein, synapsin and transglutaminase (tTG-6)
Associated with neuroautoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and ataxia.
Actin and Alpha-myosin: "Actin is a major component of muscle that contributes to the tissue’s contractile property. Alpha-myosin is a heart muscle-specific constrictive protein"²
Mitochondria (M2) protein. Mitochondria are not just your energy power house, but it is also a signaling pathway, impacts how fast you age, and is associated with autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, neurodegenerative diseases, & cardiovascular diseases.
Nuclear antigen (NA), extractable nuclear antigen (ENA), histone and collagen: These are connected to mixed connective tissue diseases.
These are not all the reactions they found, but it's still quite concerning if you've had the viral infection or the vaccine. Also this is not to discourage anyone from taking the current monoclonal antibody treatment, that is not the point of this article. Please talk with your doctors about the risks and benefits for you!
This is the reason why doing all-the-things you possibly can to support your immune system is critical to help balance it, calm inflammation, and to help the efficiency of any viral treatments you use. Things like proper nutrition, sleep, stress management, targeted BMI, blood sugar regulation, exercise/strength training, vitamin D levels, avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking- imbalances of these areas can independently cause immune system dysfunction. Adding an infection or a vaccine that creates even more inflammation and immune dysfunction is increasing your risk even more for autoimmunity.
The results show the need for further study and research of autoimmunity cross-reactive patterns with COVID-19 and the roles it plays in long-haul symptoms, the severity of COVID-19, and the development of autoimmune diseases post-infection. Also the need for further studies and research on vaccine safety (present & future) and cross-reactivity with human tissues which could result in autoimmunity and the consequences it could potentially cause in the future.
Do you have an autoimmune disease and are ready to find the root cause & focus on natural solutions? Then I invite you to schedule a free discovery with me! Please fill out this form & get started today. I look forward to working with you!