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Health.com: What is a cytokine storm?

UC expert explains how some COVID-19 patients' immune systems turn deadly

Health.com interviewed Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum of the UC Division of Infectious Diseases for a story on the impact cytokine storms have on the immune systems of COVID-19 patients. 

A researcher in a lab coat in a medical laboratory

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum of the UC Division of Infectious Diseases. Photo/Joe Fuqua III/UC Creative + Brand

One of the most mystifying aspects of the pandemic is why some patients have no symptoms while others get so sick they need to be put on a ventilator. 

Fichtenbaum says part of the body's response to an infection involves releasing cytokines, biological chemicals that stimulate cell pathways and allow for communication between cells. 

"Normally, cytokines are meant to be helpful to us in moderation," explains Dr. Fichtenbaum, "but when a certain pathway is engaged [too much] the immune system starts causing damage to the patient."

Read the full article here

Featured image at top of a cytokine storm/Getty Images

Find the latest details related to coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, and follow UC's latest information with regard to the virus.