As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one aspect that has received increasing attention is the phenomenon of "long COVID-19," where individuals continue to experience symptoms long after initial infection. A new study, the TUN-EndCOV study, has highlighted the key role of endothelial dysfunction in the persistence of these symptoms.(1)
The vascular endothelium, the innermost layer of blood vessels, plays a crucial role in maintaining the body's tissue homeostasis. It controls vascular tone, tissue hemostasis, barrier integrity, inflammation, oxidative stress, vascular permeability, and structural and functional integrity. However, a number of viral species, including SARS-CoV-2, can infect endothelial cells and cause dysfunction in this vital system.
Previous research has supported the idea that endothelial dysfunction is a key mechanism in the pathogenesis of COVID-19. Histopathological observations have shown that COVID-19 is a (micro) vascular and endothelial disease, with endothelial dysfunction playing a fundamental role. Factors such as altered vascular tone, oxidative stress, inflammation, and coagulopathy can all contribute to this dysfunction.
The TUN-EndCOV study, published in the journal Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, aimed to further investigate the role of endothelial dysfunction in long COVID-19. The study included a total of 200 patients, 100 of whom had long COVID-19 symptoms and 100 who had recovered without persistent symptoms. The study found that individuals with long COVID-19 symptoms had significantly higher levels of markers of endothelial dysfunction, including von Willebrand factor, thrombomodulin, and endocan, compared to those who had recovered without persistent symptoms. (1)
These findings suggest that endothelial dysfunction may be a key factor in the persistence of long COVID-19 symptoms. As such, strategies aimed at improving endothelial function may be an important avenue for treating and managing long COVID-19.
One such strategy is the use of a special type of active mattresses. A study by Baker et al. (2019) investigated the effects of eight weeks of sleeping on a Squirrel Vestims active mattress on endothelial function in healthy participants. The study found that active mattress use led to significant improvements in resting blood flow +336%, post-occlusive reactive hyperaemia +197%. These results demonstrate that the Vestims mattress can improve endothelial function, and thus may be a valuable aid in the treatment of long COVID-19.
In conclusion, the TUN-EndCOV study highlights the key role of endothelial dysfunction in the persistence of long COVID-19 symptoms. Further research is needed to explore the potential of active mattresses and other strategies aimed at improving endothelial function in the treatment and management of long COVID-19.