More than three years after the outbreak of the Coronavirus emergency, the Covid-19 it is becoming less and less dangerous, so much so that it has passed from the pandemic to the endemic phase. This does not mean that the risk of falling ill, even seriously, has been eliminated and that we can let our guard down, also because there are an increasing number of people who complain after being cured disabling disorders.
Today, in fact, what scares above all is the Long Covidwith all its manifestations, starting with fatigue. A new study appears to have pinpointed the cause of fatigue disabling and could perhaps help to better deal with this complication which risks significantly affecting the quality of life of those who suffer from it.
What is Long Covid
Now that Covid-19 seems less aggressive, experts and researchers are focusing particularly on Long Covid, a complex syndrome it is still partially unknown that it occurs after the recovery of the acute infection and that it can last even several months.
Long Covid is characterized by the presence of some symptoms, such as tiredness, fatigue, concentration and memory problems, widespread pain, peripheral nerve paralysis, tachycardia, depression, shortness of breath, insomnia, muscle weakness.
According to the research conducted up to now, it seems that this complication affects more women than men, especially between 40 and 55 years of age and that it has a fluctuating trend, ie that there are alternating moments in which the symptoms worsen and others in which they subside. According to estimates by the Health Organization, Long Covid affects 65 million people worldwide and 17 million in Europe.
The new studio
Long Covid is a syndrome that is still little known, but much studied. One of the latest studies conducted in this regard is that of Agostino Gemelli IRCCS University Hospital Foundation – Catholic University Campus of Rome, which seems to have identified the mechanisms of chronic fatigue, one of the main and most widespread symptoms of the syndrome.
The authors of the research have discovered that the prolonged and disabling exhaustion typical of Long Covid could depend on a malfunction of arginine metabolism, an amino acid that is naturally produced by the body and which performs several important functions. Among other things, it stimulates the synthesis of nitric oxide, a molecule crucial for circulation, the immune system and the endothelium (the lining layer of blood vessels).
The study involved 57 subjects: 46 people with Long Covid eight months after diagnosis and 11 individuals comparable in terms of sex and age but without evidence of previous Sars-CoV-2 infections. The first group was divided into two subgroups: 23 participants were invited to take 1.6 grams of arginine and 500 mg of liposomal vitamin C for 28 days, while the other 23 were given a placebo for the same number of days.
Well, patients who received the mix of arginine and liposomal vitamin C had major improvements.
“We measured blood arginine concentrations before starting treatment, observing significantly lower arginine levels in patients with long Covid,” he said. Francesco Landi, coordinator of the study and director of the Department of Orthopedic and Rheumatological Sciences of Aging at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Professor of Geriatrics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. “At the end of the 28 days we discovered that the concentrations of arginine in the blood of patients with long Covid had risen, reaching ‘healthy’ levels such as those found in patients belonging to the control group”.
“We demonstrated for the first time that arginine metabolism is impaired in patients with long Covid compared to people with no history of Sars-Cov-2 infection,” he said Matteo Tosato, co-author of the study and Head of the post-Covid Day Hospital Operating Unit, Agostino Gemelli IRCCS University Hospital Foundation in Rome. “Arginine is an indispensable amino acid at the base of multiple functions and is mainly involved in the synthesis of nitric oxide, which plays a key role in endothelial reactivity in response to the need of the different tissues, favoring a correct blood supply in relation to their necessity, thereby improving functional performance.
Long Covid: le cure
It is the first time that a link has been discovered between the fatigue of post-Covid syndrome and the biomolecular alteration in the metabolism of arginine. The results of the study are being published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. However, some research had already shown how the intake of arginine and vitamin C was useful in reducing chronic fatigue.
Indeed, when the virus invades the body’s cells it uses their metabolic substrates, especially proteins, to duplicate itself. Consequently, the cells are robbed of the substances they need to carry out their functions, which must therefore be reintegrated from the outside to return in strength.
At the moment, there are no decoded therapeutic approaches on a large scale to treat Long Covid. Some experts suggest resorting to the use of nutraceutical drugs containing the molecules involved in protein metabolism, essentially essential amino acids and some vitamins. According to the study researchers, restoring arginine levels with arginine supplements could prove to be a very effective cure.
It’s useful too allow yourself a little rest, but don’t overdo it: physical activity, in fact, would be necessary to get the cells back in motion.