Immune System Defense From COVID-19

Old Theories of Why More Men Die From COVID-19

Men are more likely to die from COVID-19 than are women. This has been known since February 2020, but we did not have any idea why men suffered and died more often from COVID-19. There were theories about them smoking more, or wearing masks less, but now a study has found a major reason for this difference amongst the sexes and it is not lifestyle factors.

A New Study Reveals Autoantibodies to Interferon

A study printed up in Science Magazine found 10% of almost 1,000 COVID-19 patients who ended up with life-threatening pneumonia had antibodies to interferons. These are immune system proteins and necessary to fight off viral infections, especially viral infections that are new to the host.  Interferons are front line soldiers protecting our bodies from infection. They send out signals to the immune system, activating a whole immunological army to come to our defense.

Genetic Mutations Appear As Causal Factor

A second study by the same researchers found out that 3.5% of critically ill patients had mutations in genes that control the interferons involved in fighting viruses. There are 500-600 of these genes, so the researchers are planning to look at more of them for additional possible mutations.

If these interferons are not working normally, the alarm goes on the fritz to some degree and help is slow to show up.

Where The Autoantibodies Are From

The autoantibodies that were found to attack the interferon was not created in response to the coronavirus. They appear to already have existed. The researchers also said the autoantibodies don't appear to have been causing any noticeable harm prior to the coronavirus showing up. When the Coronavirus reared it's head, somehow these autoantibodies were set in motion.

The researchers wonder if these autoantibodies against interferon might react when the person is exposed to other viruses too.

There are a variety of autoimmune diseases where the body makes antibodies against a normal part of the body initiating an illness such as Hashimoto's, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Type I diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.

Currently, the medical community does not know what causes autoimmune disease, however it has been observed by practitioners that environmental toxins, food sensitivities, other chronic infections (systemic, dental), stress, molecular mimicry to microbes, toxins and undigested food particles getting through a leaky gut, lifestyle factors and nutrient excess or lack can all contribute to autoimmune disease.

The Majority of Patients With Autoantibodies Were Men

A surprising bit of information was gleaned from this study. They found 94% of the patients with autoantibodies were men. About 12.5% of men who have life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia had autoantibodies against interferon compared with 2.6% of women. (Usually women are more likely than men to have autoimmune disease.) The researchers think this is why men are more likely than women to become severely ill and die.

A Quick Look At the X Chromosome

The X chromosome has several genes that are involved in the immune systems viral response. Men only have one copy while women have two. Therefore, if men have a renegade gene on the X chromosome there is no backup to protect them. Women on the other hand have a second X chromosome that can still be supplying normal genes if the gene on the first chromosome has issues. The only woman in this study that developed autoantibodies has an unusual condition where she had only one X chromosome.

You might think interferon or using supplements, or herbs to enhance interferon would be a great treatment, but findings are not clear yet. A prior study  found injected interferon found slightly higher mortality rates in the patients given interferon. It is possible the interferon was given too late in the disease when it might  cause a cytokine storm. A study recently completed in the Lancet found inhaled interferon was beneficial.  The patients who received interferon beta-1a were doubling their chance of recovery to the point of being able to resume their normal daily activities. There are currently many studies in process involving interferon. This is not the last we will hear of this difference amongst the sexes or of interferon. This is fast becoming a hot topic.

 

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