Post-COVID-19 syndrome: retinal microcirculation as a potential marker for chronic fatigue Sarah Schlick, Marianna Lucio, Alexander Johannes Bartsch, Adam Skornia, Jakob Hoffmanns, Charlotte Szewczykowski, Thora Schroeder, Franzi Raith, Lennart Rogge, Felix Heltmann, Michael Moritz, Lorenz Beitlich, Julia Schottenhamml, Martin Herrmann, Thomas Harrer, Marion Ganslmayer, Friedrich E. Kruse, Robert Laemmer, Christian Mardin, Bettina Hohberger Post-COVID-19 syndrome (PCS) summarizes persisting sequelae after infection with the severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). PCS can affect patients of all covid-19 disease severities. As previous studies revealed impaired blood flow as a provoking factor for triggering PCS, it was the aim of the present study to investigate a potential association of self-reported chronic fatigue and retinal microcirculation in patients with PCS, potentially indicating an objective biomarker. A prospective study was performed, including 201 subjects: 173 patients with PCS and 28 controls. Retinal microcirculation was visualized by OCT-Angiography (OCT-A) and quantified by the Erlangen-Angio-Tool as macula and peripapillary vessel density (VD). Chronic Fatigue (CF) was assessed with the variables Bell score, age and gender. The VD in the superficial vascular plexus (SVP), intermediate capillary plexus (ICP) and deep capillary plexus (DCP) were analyzed considering the repetitions (12 times). Taking in account of such repetitions a mixed model was performed to detect possible differences in the least square means between different groups of analysis. An age effect on VD was observed between patients and controls (p<0.0001). Gender analysis yielded that women with PCS showed lower VD levels in SVP compared to male patients (p=0.0015). The PCS patients showed significantly lower VD of ICP as compared to the controls (p=0.0001, [CI: 0.32; 1]). Moreover, considering PCS patients, the mixed model reveals a significant difference between chronic fatigue (CF) and without CF in VD of SVP (p=0.0033, [CI: -4.5; -0.92]). The model included age, gender and the variable Bell score, representing a subjective marker for CF. Consequently, the retinal microcirculation might be an objective biomarker in subjective-reported chronic fatigue of patients with PCS. Link | PDF (MedRxiv) See post #3 for link to published paper.