Autoantibodies, a hallmark of most but not all autoimmune disorders, have been described in COVID-19 patients. In the earliest report, approximately half of hospitalized patients at an academic hospital in Greece had high levels of serum autoantibodies, often associated with clinical findings such as rashes, thrombosis, and vasculitis. In a large autoantibody screen, it was demonstrated that Multisystem inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) patients develop autoantibodies, including autoantibodies against the lupus antigen.
Our studies have begun to quantify the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on autoimmunity, identifying which antigens and specific autoimmune diseases to surveil in patients who have been infected, and contributing to our mechanistic understanding of COVID-19 pathogenesis. These studies provide a starting point for large-scale epidemiology studies to determine the extent of autoimmunity that results from SARS-CoV-2 infection, and long-term impacts on the health care system and the economy.
Yet another reason to get vaccinated! Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!