Chronic post-COVID-19 syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome: Is there a role for extracorporeal apheresis?

Mol Psychiatry. 2022 Jan;27(1):34-37. doi: 10.1038/s41380-021-01148-4. Epub 2021 Jun 17.


As millions of patients have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 virus a vast number of individuals complain about continuing breathlessness and fatigue even months after the onset of the disease. This overwhelming phenomenon has not been well defined and has been called "post-COVID syndrome" or "long-COVID" [1]. There are striking similarities to myalgic encephalomyelitis also called chronic fatigue syndrome linked to a viral and autoimmune pathogenesis. In both disorders neurotransmitter receptor antibodies against ß-adrenergic and muscarinic receptors may play a key role. We found similar elevation of these autoantibodies in both patient groups. Extracorporeal apheresis using a special filter seems to be effective in reducing these antibodies in a significant way clearly improving the debilitating symptoms of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Therefore, such a form of neuropheresis may provide a promising therapeutic option for patients with post-COVID-19 syndrome. This method will also be effective when other hitherto unknown antibodies and inflammatory mediators are involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Component Removal*
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome
  • SARS-CoV-2