COVID-19 in overdrive

One-fifth of hospitalized patients develop coronavirus antibodies that attack their tissue

Featured Media for COVID-19 in overdrive

At least 1 in 5 hospitalized COVID-19 patients develop new antibodies that attack their own tissue within a week of admission, a Stanford Medicine-led study shows. 

“If you get sick enough from COVID-19 to end up in the hospital, you may not be out of the woods even after you recover,” said PJ Utz, MD, professor of immunology and rheumatology and co-senior author of research published in September 2021 in Nature Communications.

The rogue attackers, called autoantibodies, could result from immune-system overdrive triggered by a virulent, lingering infection, researchers said. The abundance of cytokines — proteins the immune cells rally to fight infection — may trigger the erroneous production of antibodies targeting them, Utz said.

Vaccinations, he added, decrease the likelihood the immune system will be confused into generating autoantibodies.

Read full story here.

Author headshot

Bruce Goldman

Bruce Goldman is a science writer in the Office of Communications. Email him at

Email the author