After COVID infection, 10-50% of people experience persistent symptoms such as fatigue, palpitations, insomnia, cognitive problems, and headache – often with significant associated distress and functional impairment. The exact combination of symptoms varies from person to person, and it is expected that the specific causes vary from person to person as well.
Because of this variability, the current recommendation is for an evaluation by a multidisciplinary team. This creates a demand on our medical system that far outstrips current resources, and risks exposing patients to long, complex medical evaluations whose results are hard to interpret. In addition, clinical treatment trials that mix patients with similar symptoms but different underlying causes have high failure rates.
To address these challenges, a team of investigators including Rebecca Hendrickson, MD, PhD (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences), John Oakley, MD, PhD (Department of Neurology), and Aaron Bunnell, MD (Department of Rehabilitation Medicine) are testing an online platform to identify patients whose pattern of symptoms suggest a particular underlying cause that is common after certain physiologic (i.e. illness or injury) and psychological stressors: increased adrenergic (adrenaline/noradrenaline) signaling in the brain and peripheral nervous system. We will pair this with a smaller number of detailed in-person assessments to validate our symptom-based measures and characterize associated biomarkers.
Our results will provide a detailed assessment of the patterns of symptoms caused by high amounts of adrenergic signaling that are seen in persistent post-COVID syndrome, how they change over time, and their association with objective measures of cognition and physiology. The project will provide the information needed to begin clinical treatment trials using existing, well-tolerated treatments that modulate adrenergic signaling. We hope the results will also have strong relevance to other potentially related disorders such as Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia.
September 1, 2021 — August 31, 2022
Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions
National, Seattle/Puget Sound
Online/remote/apps/social media, Outpatient
Chronic disease, Infectious Disease