May 21, 2020
Microbes Could Predict Who Gets Severe COVID-19
A first study of its kind shows that gut microbes could predict how seriously ill a Covid-19 patient might become. In the hopes to identify why some individuals with COVID-19 fare better than others, researchers created a risk score based on blood biomarkers found in severe COVID-19 patients. Scientists found that these biomarkers are linked closely with a core set of gut microbiome characteristics, as well as with increased inflammatory cytokines.
COVID-19 is linked closely to the gut. As the virus enters the body, it binds to ACE2 enzymes, which play a large role in regulating intestinal inflammation and gut microbe make-up. COVID-19 patients who experience GI symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting) also tend to suffer from a more severe state of the disease, so it makes sense that the gut microbiome and disease severity are strongly associated. MedRxiv
Takeaway: Scientists who conducted the research concluded that based on the study’s findings, the gut microbiome may be the underlying factor that predisposes normal individuals to experience severe COVID-19.
While this study hasn’t passed the peer review certification (the certification process where experts review the study to identify weaknesses) – the “preprint” is available now in order to make the information urgently available to the scientific community and broader public.
Becoming aware of the strong link between the gut microbiome and COVID-19 complications makes microbial health paramount. Taking care of your gut is an important way to protect yourself, since a healthy gut means a healthy immune system. To find out more about optimizing microbial health, check out Dr. Chutkan’s book The Microbiome Solution, where she offers a simple, and extremely effective guide to promoting a rich and diverse gut microbiome.