COVID-19 has been primarily characterised by respiratory symptoms. But, for some, the infection may also be accompanied by a cytokine storm. This causes the migration and activation of white blood cells and inflammatory proteins known as cytokines and can result in the destruction of lung tissue and surrounding blood vessels. Excessive and impaired blood clotting, known as coagulopathy, is another common complication and is related to poorer outcomes and mortality.
What causes one person to be at risk of these outcomes and others not is still uncertain, but there are some interesting studies that warrant our consideration in order to minimise these risks.
One such study from July 2021 assessed the proposal that high homocysteine, associated with an MTHFR gene mutation might be a predictive biomarker for the severity of COVID-19 infection.
We’ve heard a lot about MTHFR in recent years, and we know that relatively common variations in the gene are associated with a range of health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, migraines and autoimmune diseases amongst others.
What we’re not so familiar with are the potential impacts MTHFR gene variations might have on someone with a COVID-19 infection.
To help us better understand this study and the role MTHFR and homocysteine may be playing in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, we invited Dr Denise Furness to the podcast.
Dr Furness is a functional geneticist and nutritionist. She is a pioneer in the field of nutrigenomics and personalised health with over 15 years of experience in the area. She began her career as a research scientist focusing on folate metabolism, methylation and DNA damage in relation to pregnancy health. Over the years her research expanded covering vitamin D, immune markers, and oxidative stress.