Establishing the prevalence of common tissue-specific autoantibodies following SARS CoV-2 infection


Clinical & Experimental Immunology

Contributing to research themes:


COVID-19 has been associated with both transient and persistent systemic symptoms that do not appear to be a direct consequence of viral infection. The generation of autoantibodies has been proposed as a mechanism to explain these symptoms. To understand the prevalence of autoantibodies associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, we investigated the frequency and specificity of clinically relevant autoantibodies in 84 individuals previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, suffering from COVID-19 of varying severity in both the acute and convalescent setting. These were compared with results from 32 individuals who were on ITU for non-COVID reasons.

We demonstrate a higher frequency of autoantibodies in the COVID-19 ITU group compared with non-COVID-19 ITU disease control patients and that autoantibodies were also found in the serum 3-5 months post COVID-19 infection. Non-COVID patients displayed a diverse pattern of autoantibodies; in contrast, the COVID-19 groups had a more restricted panel of autoantibodies including skin, skeletal muscle and cardiac antibodies.

Our results demonstrate that respiratory viral infection with SARS-CoV-2 is associated with the detection of a limited profile of tissue-specific autoantibodies, detectable using routine clinical immunology assays. Further studies are required to determine whether these autoantibodies are specific to SARS-CoV-2 or a phenomenon arising from severe viral infections and to determine the clinical significance of these autoantibodies.

Author list:

Author Affiliations:

1) Clinical Immunology Service, Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy, University of

Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

2) Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, University of Birmingham, UK

3) Department of Critical Care Medicine, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, Birmingham,



Alex G. Richter1, Adrian M. Shields1, Abid Karim1, David Birch1, Sian E. Faustini1, Lora Steadman2,Kerensa Ward1, Timothy Plant1, Gary Reynolds2, Tonny Veenith3, Adam F. Cunningham2, Mark T.Drayson1, David C. Wraith2