(Article) Genome-wide Association Study of Long COVID
Infections can lead to persistent or long-term symptoms and diseases such as shingles after varicella zoster, cancers after human papillomavirus, or rheumatic fever after streptococcal infections. Similarly, infection by SARS-CoV-2 can result in Long COVID, a condition characterized by symptoms of fatigue and pulmonary and cognitive dysfunction. The biological mechanisms that contribute to the development of Long COVID remain to be clarified. We leveraged the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative to perform a genome-wide association study for Long COVID including up to 6,450 Long COVID cases and 1,093,995 population controls from 24 studies across 16 countries. We identified the first genome-wide significant association for Long COVID at the FOXP4 locus. FOXP4 has been previously associated with COVID-19 severity, lung function, and cancers, suggesting a broader role for lung function in the pathophysiology of Long COVID. While we identify COVID-19 severity as a causal risk factor for Long COVID, the impact of the genetic risk factor located in the FOXP4 locus could not be solely explained by its association to severe COVID-19. Our findings further support the role of pulmonary dysfunction and COVID-19 severity in the development of Long COVID.
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