JABSOM Researchers: White Blood Cells Work Harder in Long COVID Patients

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David Maison, Anastasia Andrukhiv, and Dr. Mariana Gerschenson (CMB) presented at the 30th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle Washington.


As part of our immune systems, white blood cells protect against infection and respond to injury or illness. Made in bone marrow, they account for about 1% of our blood, constantly flowing through our bloodstream and fending off potential infection.

JABSOM research shows white blood cells work harder in people with long-term COVID. The white blood cells in those patients use more oxygen and make more energy than people who have recovered from COVID or who were never infected.

JABSOM graduate student: David Maison, CMB Senior Technician: Anastasia Andrukhiv,, and Associate Dean for Research and CMB Professor: Dr. Mariana Gerschenson recently presented these findings at the 30th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, Washington.

These preliminary findings and the currently hypothesized mechanisms of long-term COVID suggest that the most immediate measures to be trialed should include leukapheresis, which is the removal of blood to collect specific blood cells.

Combined leukapheresis and plasmapheresis, which removes the blood and separates it into red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma, is also recommended along with leukocyte transfer treatment.

The potential success of such treatments depends on the extent of bone marrow infiltration by SARS-CoV-2 and the cost-benefit analysis of the side effects of such procedures.

Further studies are warranted to investigate mitochondrial dysfunction in long COVID. Once the underlying mechanisms of long COVID are better understood, individualized and tailored therapies can be developed.

The study was done in collaboration with faculty at Case Western University, and the research will be submitted for peer-review publication in Nature Scientific Reports.