'The long tail of Covid-19' - The detection of a prolonged inflammatory response after a SARS-CoV-2 infection in asymptomatic and mildly affected patients

F1000Res. 2020 Nov 19:9:1349. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.27287.2. eCollection 2020.


'Long Covid', or medical complications associated with post SARS-CoV-2 infection, is a significant post-viral complication that is being more and more commonly reported in patients. Therefore, there is an increasing need to understand the disease mechanisms, identify drug targets and inflammatory processes associated with a SARS-CoV-2 infection. To address this need, we created a targeted mass spectrometry based multiplexed panel of 96 immune response associated proteins. We applied the multiplex assay to a cohort of serum samples from asymptomatic and moderately affected patients. All patients had tested positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection by PCR and were determined to be subsequently positive for antibodies. Even 40-60 days post-viral infection, we observed a significant remaining inflammatory response in all patients. Proteins that were still affected were associated with the anti-inflammatory response and mitochondrial stress. This indicates that biochemical and inflammatory pathways within the body can remain perturbed long after SARS-CoV-2 infections have subsided even in asymptomatic and moderately affected patients.

Keywords: Sars-CoV-2; biomarker; inflammation; mass spectrometry; proteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / virology*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome

Grants and funding

This study has been funded by the UCL Biological Mass Spectrometry Centre and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre. Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health is made possible by the NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.