UKE study provides new insights into COVID-19

4 August 2023
UKE proves connection between severe disease progression and functional disorders of the autonomic nervous system

Severe courses of Covid-19 frequently lead to disturbances of the autonomic nervous system, researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) have found. Until now, researchers had suspected a disturbance of the autonomic nervous system in acute cases of Long Covid, but had not been able to verify it. Researchers examined 323 patients and 33 decedents for the study published in the Acta Neuropathologica periodical.

Severe COVID-19 may cause vagus nerve dysfunction

"Our data suggest that severe cases of SARS-CoV-2 may limit the function of the vagus nerve and lead to a critical  progression," said Prof. Dr. Markus Glatzel, Director of the Institute of Neuropathology at UKE. The vagus nerve supplies the heart, lungs, upper digestive tract, chest and abdomen. The study examined patients including deceased with different courses of COVID-19. The pathogen was detected in the vagus nerve of those who had died, and the amount of virus correlated with the inflammatory response in the nerve. Other patients with a damaged nerve had a reduced respiratory rate.

More neurotransmitter interferon

"Remarkably, coronavirus in the nerve led to a sharp increase in the neurotransmitter interferon, which is believed ed  to be a major contributor to autonomic nervous system damage," said Dr. Marcel S. Woo of UKE's Institute of Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis and author of the study.


Sources and further information

Similar articles

UKE managing international "GUIDE.MRD" research into cancer

Consortium researching use of liquid biopsies against residual tumor cells - EUR 3.4 million for UKE

EUR 4 million for UKE-run National Autopsy Network

German government funding joint project to boost response to pandemic

Researchers discover natural substances against coronavirus

Three natural substances could form basis of corona medication - University of Hamburg and DESY involved in research

UKE presents results of world's largest study on coronavirus

New findings on repercussions - possible damage even in mild cases
The Consent Management Platform ( we use could not be loaded. This can happen if AdBlockers incorrectly block this URL. Some features such as maps, proximity search or forms, cannot be used this way. To use these features, please deactivate your AdBlocker or allow access to *