- Cortisol could be used with other biomarkers for diagnosis
- Research identifies three potential causes of chronic symptoms
Levels of cortisol in the blood of those with the so-called post Covid-19 condition were roughly half those found in healthy, uninfected people or individuals who fully recovered from the pandemic disease, researchers at Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York found.
No one knows yet what causes the constellation of symptoms, often termed long Covid, that afflict some 10% to 20% of people after the acute phase of infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The US government is spending more than $1 billion to learn why it occurs and to devise strategies to treat and prevent the condition.
One avenue for research is the endocrine system, which produces hormones like cortisol that affect every part of the body, including inflammation and metabolism. Cortisol helps control mood, motivation, and fear. Low levels can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, gastrointestinal upsets and hypotension, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Low cortisol has been reported in people with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, and boosting it with hydrocortisone treatment has provided a modest improvement in symptoms, researchers Akiko Iwasaki, David Putrino and their co-authors wrote in the study, released ahead of peer-review and publication on Aug. 10.