Immunopathology of COVID-19 and its implications in the development of rhino-orbital-cerebral mucormycosis: a major review

Date Published:

2022 Jul 20


PURPOSE: To present a literature review on various immunopathologic dysfunctions following COVID-19 infection and their potential implications in development of rhino-orbital-cerebral mucormycosis (ROCM). METHODS: A literature search was performed via Google Scholar and PubMed with subsequent review of the accompanying references. Analogies were drawn between the immune and physiologic deviations caused by COVID-19 and the tendency of the same to predispose to ROCM. RESULTS: Sixty-two articles were reviewed. SARS-CoV-2 virus infection leads to disruption of epithelial integrity in the respiratory passages, which may be a potential entry point for the ubiquitous Mucorales to become invasive. COVID-19 related GRP78 protein upregulation may aid in spore germination and hyphal invasion by Mucorales. COVID-19 causes interference in macrophage functioning by direct infection, a tendency for hyperglycemia, and creation of neutrophil extracellular traps. This affects innate immunity against Mucorales. Thrombocytopenia and reduction in the number of natural killer (NK) cells and infected dendritic cells is seen in COVID-19. This reduces the host immune response to pathogenic invasion by Mucorales. Cytokines released in COVID-19 cause mitochondrial dysfunction and accumulation of reactive oxygen species, which cause oxidative damage to the leucocytes. Hyperferritinemia also occurs in COVID-19 resulting in suppression of the hematopoietic proliferation of B- and T-lymphocytes. CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 has a role in the occurrence of ROCM due to its effects at the entry point of the fungus in the respiratory mucosa, effects of the innate immune system, creation of an environment of iron overload, propagation of hyperglycemia, and effects on the adaptive immune system.

Last updated on 07/31/2022