Gene Linked To Long COVID Found In Analysis Of Thousands Of Patients

14 Jul 2023 • For more than three years, the global COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative has been searching for DNA sequences that are associated with a risk of developing severe COVID-19. That hunt, which is ongoing, has implicated genes involved in the immune system and in allowing the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter cells. The long-COVID study is a spin-off from that effort. The first genome-wide hunt to find genetic risk factors for long COVID has yielded a hit: a DNA sequence near a gene called FOXP4, which is active in the lungs and in some immune cells.

The study, which was released as a preprint on 1 July1, used data collected from 6,450 people with long COVID across 16 countries. Researchers hope that this analysis will be just the beginning: a vast number of data are required to unpick a disorder as complex as long COVID, which has been associated with more than 200 symptoms, including severe fatigue, nerve pain and difficulties with concentration and memory.

In one analysis that combined data from 11 studies, researchers found a particular region of the genome that was associated with about 1.6-fold higher odds of developing long COVID. That segment of DNA is near a gene called FOXP4, which is active in the lungs and other organs. The variant linked to long COVID is also associated with higher expression of FOXP4 in lung cells.

Previous research has linked the same gene to an increased risk of severe COVID-19, and was also found to be associated with lung cancer. Future studies will probably add to the list of known genetic risk factors for long COVID.

Source: CDC | Read full story

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