Benef Microbes. 2021 Feb 24;12(1):1-3. doi: 10.3920/BM2021.x001.
At the start of 2020 we were thrilled to have reached 10 years of Beneficial Microbes! Little did we know that soon after Europe and the rest of the world (with Asia already earlier) would be in lock-down due to COVID-19. It has been a strange year. And now, at the start of 2021, the excitement of having a vaccine is tempered by the fact that everywhere mutants of the virus pop up. Although this was likely to occur, as also the influenza virus keeps mutating, it means that at the moment it is unclear as to whether the current situation of lock-downs and social distancing will remain for a longer period than we had anticipated and hoped for at the end of 2020 when it became clear that several vaccines were efficacious.
Some studies have shown a role of the gut microbiota composition in disease severity, together with vitamin D, cholesterol and other factors. It was a hype to write a 'review' on gut microbiota and the effect on COVID-19, and also the board of Beneficial Microbes has received several submissions of so-called reviews on the topic.
However, all of them were rejected, as they were mere speculations about how the gut microbiota might affect virus infection and disease severity, without any data whatsoever. However, there are some good studies out there that have shown that a proper gut microbiota may indeed influence disease severity, such as recently reviewed by Kim (2021). All in all, this may not be too surprising for the knowledgeable reader, as they would know that the microbiota plays a role in everything that can be wrong with us!
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Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 26 November 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2020.576551
Sabrina Donati Zeppa*, Deborah Agostini, Giovanni Piccoli, Vilberto Stocchi† and Piero Sestili†
Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes cardiopulmonary and vascular complications, ranging in severity. Understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of the novel SARS-CoV2 infection and progression can provide potential novel targets for its prevention and/or treatment. Virus microbiota reciprocal interactions have been studied in a variety of viral infections. For example, the integrity of Coronavirus particles can be disrupted by surfactin, a bacterial surface molecule that targets other viruses, including that of influenza A. In this light, intestinal microbiota likely influences COVID-19 virulence, while from its side SARS-CoV-2 may affect the intestinal microbiome promoting dysbiosis and other deleterious consequences. Hence, the microbiota pre-existing health status and its alterations in the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection, are likely to play an important, still underscored role in determining individual susceptibility and resilience to COVID-19. Indeed, the vast majority of COVID-19 worst clinical conditions and fatalities develop in subjects with specific risk factors such as aging and the presence of one or more comorbidities, which are intriguingly characterized also by unhealthy microbiome status. Moreover, these comorbidities require complex pharmacological regimens known as “polypharmacy” that may further affect microbiota integrity and worsen the resilience to viral infections. This complex situation may represent a further and underestimated risk with regard to COVID-19 clinical burden for the elderly and comorbid people. Here, we discuss the possible biological, physiopathological, and clinical implications of gut microbiota in COVID-19 and the strategies to improve/maintain its healthy status as a simple and adjunctive strategy to reduce COVID-19 virulence and socio-sanitary burden.
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