Can COVID-19 induce a cytokine storm?
Posted October 23, 2023
Yes, COVID-19 can induce a cytokine storm.
COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When this virus infects a person, their immune system reacts by releasing cytokines that help drive the protective immune responses.
Cytokines are cell signaling proteins. An invasion by a pathogen triggers the production and release of cytokines into the bloodstream where they regulate the body’s response to the infection.
In some patients, the immune system responds too aggressively, inducing a cytokine storm in which excessive amounts of cytokines are released into the bloodstream. Instead of helping the body fight the virus, the elevated levels of cytokine can cause massive damage to the body’s cells and tissues. The induced cytokine storm is one of the major causes of multiple-organ failure and death in COVID-19 infections.