What Causes Lingering Symptoms in COVID Long Patients with Excess Interferon Gamma Production?

What Causes Lingering Symptoms in COVID Long Patients with Excess Interferon Gamma Production?

Lingering Symptoms in COVID Long-Haulers: Excess Interferon Gamma Production Identified

Even after the initial infection has passed, many individuals continue to experience lingering symptoms of COVID-19, a condition known as “COVID long.” Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered a potential cause for these persistent symptoms: excessive production of interferon gamma (IFNg), an inflammatory mediator.

Immune System Overdrive

IFNg is a cytokine, a small protein that plays a crucial role in the immune system’s response to viral infections. By binding to specific receptors on cells, IFNg triggers a cascade of events that activate immune cells and promote inflammation.

In COVID long-haulers, researchers observed an abnormally high level of IFNg production in the blood. This excessive activity originates from a small subset of T8 lymphocytes, a type of immune cell involved in killing virus-infected cells.

Residual Virus or Vaccine Response?

The researchers speculate that the elevated IFNg production could be linked to a persistent presence of the COVID-19 virus in the body. This hypothesis is supported by the observation that vaccination against the virus often alleviates symptoms in long-haulers, suggesting that the immune response is still engaged.

Symptoms and Treatment

IFNg has been shown to induce symptoms similar to those experienced by COVID long-haulers, including fatigue, cognitive impairment, and loss of smell or taste. However, it remains unclear whether the excessive IFNg production is directly responsible for the lingering symptoms.

Further research is needed to establish the causal relationship between IFNg and COVID long. If confirmed, targeting IFNg production could offer a potential treatment avenue for managing the debilitating effects of this condition.

Implications for Other Viral Infections

The findings in COVID long-haulers have implications for other viral infections. Persistent symptoms and inflammation are also observed in patients with long-term consequences from diseases such as dengue fever, Epstein-Barr virus, and influenza. Researchers suggest that excessive IFNg production may play a similar role in these conditions.


The discovery of elevated IFNg production in COVID long-haulers provides new insights into the potential mechanisms underlying this debilitating condition. By unraveling the immune system dysregulation involved, scientists may be able to develop targeted interventions to improve the lives of those affected by COVID long.

By Mehek

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