SARS-CoV-2 and the female reproductive system

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A recent study published in The American Journal of Reproductive Immunology evaluated the possible cross-reactivity of antibodies against Spike proteins and proteins related to human fertility. The authors  belong to research centers in Israel, Italy, France and Russia. They conducted a systematic study to understand the immunological potential of peptides shared between SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein and human proteins involved in reproduction and the possible effects that molecular mimicry may have on female fertility.

Molecular mimicry is the resemblance that exists between antigens; in this case, between the Spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 and the proteins of human tissues. It is a mechanism that can contribute to female and male infertility, by generating autoantibodies that react against the organs of human reproduction.

The authors of the study did a search in a library of 82 human proteins linked to the process of differentiation of the ovum (oogenesis). They compared immunological potential of the peptides shared between SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein and oogenesis-related proteins. SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein was found to share 41 minimal immune determinants, with 27 human proteins that relates to oogenesis, placentation and/or decidualization.

These findings suggest potential cross-reactivity between the homologous peptides that may result in the development of autoantibodies and new-onset of related autoimmune manifestations.

The authors of the study emphasized that the molecular mimicry found in the study  does not indicate female reproductive dysfunction in people who suffer COVID-19 infection. They suggest potential cross-reactivity between the homologous peptides that may result in the development of autoantibodies and new-onset of related autoimmune manifestations.

These scientific discoveries about the similarity between Spike glycoprotein and human tissues are very important. All the approved COVID 19 vaccines used the Spike protein. Clinicians  should monitor patients vaccinated against COVID-19, due to the problems of cross-reactivity between the homologous peptides and possible autoimmune diseases, cancer, and infertility that may appear among the vaccinated population.

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