Examination of autoantibodies to type I interferon in patients suffering from long COVID

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Long COVID (LC) is an emerging global health concern. The underlying mechanism and pathophysiology remain unclear. Presence of neutralizing autoantibodies against type 1 interferons (IFN) has been established as a predictor of critical COVID-19. We hypothesized that persistent autoimmune activity with autoantibodies against type 1 IFN may contribute to symptoms in patients with LC. Plasma samples and clinical information were obtained from a Danish LC cohort consisting of adult patients with confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Information on symptoms and quality of life was derived from an LC-specific questionnaire and the EQ-5D-5L questionnaire. Detection of type 1 IFN autoantibodies in plasma were performed by ELISA. Samples collected between June, 2020, and September, 2021, from 279 patients were analyzed and compared to a control group of 94 individuals with prior mild SARS-CoV-2 infection who did not develop LC symptoms. In total, five LC patients (1.8%) and 3 (3.2%) of the controls had detectable circulating type 1 IFN autoantibodies. Collectively, prevalence of autoantibodies against type 1 IFN subtypes in our LC cohort were primarily driven by men and did not exceed the prevalence in controls. Thus, in our cohort, anti-type I IFN autoantibodies are unlikely to drive LC symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29089
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • autoantibodies
  • autoimmunity
  • immunology
  • interferon
  • long COVID
  • Autoantibodies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Interferon Type I
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Quality of Life
  • Adult
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome


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