Persistent lymphopenia is a hallmark of immune deficiency, which can put people at risk of opportunistic infections including reactivated viruses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left a trail of unexpected consequences in its wake, one of which is the occurrence of persistent lymphopenia in some individuals following infection or vaccination. This article explores the potential causes, implications, and treatments of this condition, providing valuable insights for physicians navigating the post-COVID landscape.
- Post-COVID-19 and post-vaccine patients have been observed to develop reactivated and recurrent infections, including herpes, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), urinary tract infections (UTIs), and even COVID-19, potentially linked to lymphopenia.
- Persistent lymphopenia, characterized by low numbers of lymphocytes, is a hallmark of immune deficiency and can put people at risk of opportunistic infections.
- The virus and its remnant spike protein may bind to and kill lymphocytes, leading to lymphopenia. This suggests that the virus or its remnants could still be lingering in the body.
- Persistent lymphopenia can lead to immune exhaustion, where the immune cells stop responding to a virus or its remnants.
- Treating the condition causing the lymphopenia is usually the first step in returning lymphocyte counts to baseline. Certain nutritional deficiencies can cause lymphopenia, and high iron levels can also put a person at an increased risk of infection.
HCN Medical Memo
In a study appearing in PLOS ONE, more than 30% of the patients admitted to the hospital had lymphopenia on admission. In addition, the incidence increased to 41% when including lymphopenia during hospital stay.
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