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Long coronavirus disease 2019 (LC) is a chronic sequel of acute COVID-19. The exact pathophysiology of the affective, chronic fatigue and physiosomatic symptoms (labelled as “physio-affective phenome”) of LC has remained elusive.
The current study aims to delineate the effects of oxygen saturation (SpO2) and body temperature during the acute phase on the physio-affective phenome of LC.
We recruited 120 LC patients and 36 controls. For all participants, we assessed the lowest SpO2 and peak body temperature during acute COVID-19, and the Hamilton Depression and Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMD/HAMA) and Fibro Fatigue (FF) scales 3–4 months later.
Lowered SpO2 and increased body temperature during the acute phase and female sex predict 60.7% of the variance in the physio-affective phenome of LC. Using unsupervised learning techniques, we were able to delineate a new endophenotype class, which comprises around 26.7% of the LC patients and is characterised by very low SpO2 and very high body temperature, and depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and autonomic and gastro-intestinal symptoms scores. Single latent vectors could be extracted from both biomarkers, depression, anxiety and FF symptoms or from both biomarkers, insomnia, chronic fatigue, gastro-intestinal and autonomic symptoms.
The newly constructed endophenotype class and pathway phenotypes indicate that the physio-affective phenome of LC is at least in part the consequence of the pathophysiology of acute COVID-19, namely the combined effects of lowered SpO2, increased body temperature and the associated immune-inflammatory processes and lung lesions.
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