Abstract: Autoimmune responses mediated by autoantibodies have been observed in SARS-CoV-2 infection. Herein, we evaluate the presence of rheumatic, thyroid and phospholipid autoantibodies in sera samples from 120 adult hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in comparison to pre-pandemic samples from 100 healthy individuals. In addition, to estimate the frequency of these autoantibodies in COVID-19, a meta-analysis of selected articles was conducted. Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 had latent autoimmunity characterized by a high frequency of anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies, rheumatoid factor (RF), anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide third generation antibodies, antinuclear antibodies (ANAs), IgM anti-β2-glycoprotein I (β2GP1) and IgM anti-cardiolipin antibodies. The meta-analysis confirmed our results, with RF and ANAs being the most common autoantibodies. In addition, cluster analysis revealed that those patients with high frequency of RF, IgM anti-β2GP1 antibodies and ANAs had a longer hospital stay, required more vasopressors during hospitalization, and were more likely to develop critical disease. These data suggest that latent autoimmunity influences the severity of COVID-19, and support further post-COVID studies in order to evaluate the development of overt autoimmunity.
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