Endothelial dysfunction and altered endothelial biomarkers in patients with post-COVID-19 syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrom... (Haffke et al, 2022)

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Endothelial dysfunction and altered endothelial biomarkers in patients with post-COVID-19 syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)
Haffke et al, 2022

Authors:
Milan Haffke, Helma Freitag, Gordon Rudolf, Martina Seifert, Wolfram Doehner, Nadja Scherbakov, Leif Hanitsch, Kirsten Wittke, Sandra Bauer, Frank Konietschke, Friedemann Paul, Judith Bellmann-Strobl, Claudia Kedor, Carmen Scheibenbogen & Franziska Sotzny


Abstract:

Background
Fatigue, exertion intolerance and post-exertional malaise are among the most frequent symptoms of Post-COVID Syndrome (PCS), with a subset of patients fulfilling criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). As SARS-CoV-2 infects endothelial cells, causing endotheliitis and damaging the endothelium, we investigated endothelial dysfunction (ED) and endothelial biomarkers in patients with PCS.

Methods
We studied the endothelial function in 30 PCS patients with persistent fatigue and exertion intolerance as well as in 15 age- and sex matched seronegative healthy controls (HCs). 14 patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS. The other patients were considered to have PCS. Peripheral endothelial function was assessed by the reactive hyperaemia index (RHI) using peripheral arterial tonometry (PAT) in patients and HCs. In a larger cohort of patients and HCs, including post-COVID reconvalescents (PCHCs), Endothelin-1 (ET-1), Angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2), Endocan (ESM-1), IL-8, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) and ACE2 were analysed as endothelial biomarkers.

Results
Five of the 14 post-COVID ME/CFS patients and five of the 16 PCS patients showed ED defined by a diminished RHI (< 1.67), but none of HCs exhibited this finding. A paradoxical positive correlation of RHI with age, blood pressure and BMI was found in PCS but not ME/CFS patients. The ET-1 concentration was significantly elevated in both ME/CFS and PCS patients compared to HCs and PCHCs. The serum Ang-2 concentration was lower in both PCS patients and PCHCs compared to HCs.

Conclusion
A subset of PCS patients display evidence for ED shown by a diminished RHI and altered endothelial biomarkers. Different associations of the RHI with clinical parameters as well as varying biomarker profiles may suggest distinct pathomechanisms among patient subgroups.

The study: https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-022-03346-2