Coronavirus and Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome

27.01.20 10:41 AM Comment(s)

The Wuhan Coronavirus and SIRS

The recent outbreak of Coronavirus in Wuhan China and subsequent spread across the globe is an example of how a viral infection can  cause a deadly systemic inflammatory response (SIRS).  SIRS is a serious medical condition caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection. Immune chemicals released into the blood to combat the infection trigger widespread inflammation, which leads to blood clots and leaky vessels. This results in impaired blood flow, which damages the body’s organs by depriving them of nutrients and oxygen. In severe cases, one or more organs fail. In the worst cases, blood pressure drops, the heart weakens and the patient spirals toward septic shock. Once this happens, multiple organs—lungs, kidneys, liver—may quickly fail and the patient can die (adapted from NIGMS website).

Human coronaviruses (hCoVs) can be divided into low pathogenic and highly pathogenic coronaviruses. The low pathogenic CoVs infect the upper respiratory tract and cause mild, cold-like respiratory illness. In contrast, highly pathogenic hCoVs such as severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV) predominantly infect lower airways and cause fatal pneumonia and systemic inflammatory syndrome (SIRS). SARS and MERS had death rates of approximately 10%-35%. The mortality rate of the Wuhan Coronavirus may be approaching similar levels. Epidemiologists, researchers, clinicians, and governments are racing to find ways to contain and treat the virus. Severe pneumonia caused by pathogenic hCoVs is often associated with rapid virus replication, massive inflammatory cell infiltration and elevated pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine responses resulting in acute lung injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.  Anti-viral drugs that may reduce the replication of the virus are being evaluated. Treatments to reduce the out-of-control immune response may also be effective.

BioTether Sciences studies and develops plasmapheresis devices to selectively remove inflammatory cytokines and other targeted proteins from the blood. This affinity capture technique short circuits the damaging immune response, returns to body to homeostasis and therefore increases survival from SIRS/septic shock.