COVID-19 and Autoimmune Diseases

Yu Liu; Amr H. Sawalha; Qianjin Lu


Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2021;33(2):155-162. 

In This Article


COVID-19 is a novel pandemic that has had significant global health consequences. Similar to systemic autoimmune diseases, COVID-19 can present with heterogeneous and systemic clinical manifestations. To some extent, there are similarities in the immune response in both disease conditions, and organ damage in COVID-19 appears to be largely immune-mediated, similar to autoimmune diseases. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can disturb self-tolerance of host antigens at least in part through molecular mimicry. Indeed, the development of autoantibodies and sometimes organ-specific (e.g. GBS) or systemic (e.g. SLE-like disease) autoimmunity has been observed in COVID-19. Overall, more data are needed to further understand the relationship between COVID-19 and autoimmunity and characterize the risk and severity of COVID-19 in patients with preexisting autoimmune diseases.