Chronic viral coinfections differentially affect the likelihood of developing long COVID

J Clin Invest. 2023 Feb 1;133(3):e163669. doi: 10.1172/JCI163669.

Abstract

BACKGROUNDThe presence and reactivation of chronic viral infections, such as EBV, CMV, and HIV, have been proposed as potential contributors to long COVID (LC), but studies in well-characterized postacute cohorts of individuals with COVID-19 over a longer time course consistent with current case definitions of LC are limited.METHODSIn a cohort of 280 adults with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, we assessed the presence and types of LC symptoms and prior medical history (including COVID-19 history and HIV status) and performed serological testing for EBV and CMV using a commercial laboratory. We used covariate-adjusted binary logistic regression models to identify independent associations between variables and LC symptoms.RESULTSWe observed that LC symptoms, such as fatigue and neurocognitive dysfunction, at a median of 4 months following initial diagnosis were independently associated with serological evidence suggesting recent EBV reactivation (early antigen-diffuse IgG positivity) or high nuclear antigen (EBNA) IgG levels but not with ongoing EBV viremia. Serological evidence suggesting recent EBV reactivation (early antigen-diffuse IgG positivity) was most strongly associated with fatigue (OR = 2.12). Underlying HIV infection was also independently associated with neurocognitive LC (OR = 2.5). Interestingly, participants who had serologic evidence of prior CMV infection were less likely to develop neurocognitive LC (OR = 0.52).CONCLUSIONOverall, these findings suggest differential effects of chronic viral coinfections on the likelihood of developing LC and association with distinct syndromic patterns. Further assessment during the acute phase of COVID-19 is warranted.TRIAL REGISTRATIONLong-term Impact of Infection with Novel Coronavirus; ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04362150.FUNDINGThis work was supported by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grants (3R01AI141003-03S1, R01AI158013, and K24AI145806); the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Department of Medicine and Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine; and the UCSF-Bay Area Center for AIDS Research (P30-AI027763).

Keywords: Adaptive immunity; COVID-19; Cytokines.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04362150