Reported in the prestigious journal Gut Microbes, the study suggests that targeting these gut microbiota could pave the way for innovative treatments to address the long-term effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This discovery opens up exciting possibilities for treating post-COVID-19 health issues including respiratory and cognitive difficulties.
Professor Phil Hansbro, co-author of the study and Director of the Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation said that the research team’s aim was to uncover the underlying factors contributing to the persistence of health problems, after the SARS-CoV-2 virus had been cleared from the body. He said that the researchers had employed a new approach – introducing gut microbiota from people who had recovered from COVID-19, into mice.
“The outcomes were revealing,” said Professor Hansbro.
“The transplanted gut bacteria was shown to affect the mice, impairing their lung defences as well as brain cognitive functions. This means that disruptions in gut microbiota resulting from a COVID-19 infection could potentially have lasting negative effects on health, even after the virus has been cleared from the body.”
Professor Hansbro said that the study’s results lay the foundation for potential new strategies to mitigate the long-term impacts of COVID-19.
“Our research opens up new possibilities for treatment strategies targeting the gut microbiota, such as use of probiotics, to improve the quality of life for those grappling with post-COVID health issues,” he said.
The collaborative study was led by Professor Angelica Thomaz Vieira, Laboratory of Microbiota and Immunomodulation-LMI- Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.