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COVID-19 and Oral Microbiome

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Patients with mild to severe COVID-19 disease can go on to develop a constellation of neurological symptoms long after they’ve recovered from the initial infection. These patients suffer from long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms or “long-COVID”. What is not well known is how COVID-19 leads to the long-COVID disease state and the mechanisms at play in the development of this neurocognitive disease. The symptoms of long-COVID in many ways resemble symptoms experienced by patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Our recent work has highlighted how a pro-inflammatory type, oral microbiome dysbiosis associates with long-COVID. Additionally, we have demonstrated that the oropharyngeal microbiome of COVID-19 patients has increased abundance of several commensal organisms that is predictive of patients surviving and not requiring respiratory support.

We also show that the presence of metabolic pathways for bacterial products such as lipopolysaccharide and mycolic acid are also predictive of not requiring respiratory support, implying that the presence of bacteria producing these products has a positive impact on disease course.

In our current work among healthcare providers treated as home with COVID-19 we are investigating the long-term neurocognitive outcomes after recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection and follow longitudinally these patients collecting biological samples to monitor oral microbiome composition and peripheral blood to measure immunological response to infection.

Selected Publications

Inflammation-type dysbiosis of the oral microbiome associates with the duration of COVID-19 symptoms and long-COVID. https://insight.jci.org/articles/view/152346

The Oropharyngeal Microbiome Predicts Need for Respiratory Support Among COVID19 Patients. Currently Under Review