Photo: wildpixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus
The journal Nature reports the first genome-wide study that has found a risk factor gene for 'long covid'.
Bioinformaticians collected genome-wide data from 6,450 people from 16 different countries. All these people were ill with "long covid". Genetic data from over a million other study participants were used as controls. Scientists have found a specific region of the genome, which is associated with a 1.6-fold increase in the probability of getting a “long covid”. This piece of DNA is next to the FOXP4 gene, which is active in the lungs and other organs. The DNA sequence associated with "long covid" is also associated with higher activity of the FOXP4 gene in the lungs.
“ Long covid ” is a long-term painful condition after an acute COVID-19 infection, characterized by a large number (more than 200) of symptoms, including: poor concentration and thinking difficulties (“fog in the head”), constant fatigue that interferes with work, headache , sleep problems, dizziness, ongoing cough, shortness of breath, chest pain.
Scientists have long been engaged in the analysis of genetic predisposition to various manifestations of covid, in particular to an increased risk of a severe course of the disease. This search basically included immune system genes that allowed the covid virus to enter cells. The same FOXP4 gene, as found in earlier studies, is also associated with a more severe course of the acute phase. It has also been linked to lung cancer. Its effect on long covid is stronger than on the severity of the infection, so the increase in the risk of long covid cannot be explained by the severity of the underlying disease alone.
Studies of the genetic predisposition to long covid, Nature experts believe, will allow a better understanding of the causes of this complex and multifactorial disease - as a result, doctors will probably be better able to prevent long covid.