Acute childhood hepatitis : a link with Covid-19

What is this liver disease of unknown origin that strikes children under the age of 10? For Jean-Marc Sabatier* it is one of the diseases caused by an emerging virus, SARS-CoV2.

jean-Marc Sabatier (DR)
Jean-Marc Sabatier (DR)

It intrigues and worries. Acute childhood hepatitis of unknown origin has been affecting children in several countries in recent weeks. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) are investigating dozens of cases of childhood hepatitis in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and France, where two cases have been reported at the Lyon University Hospital. In some cases, patients had to be transferred to a department specializing in liver disease and some children had to undergo liver transplants.

A malfunction of the SRA

Acute hepatitis is known to be an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with one of the 5 hepatitis viruses and sometimes by toxic substances. These viruses are designated by the letters A, B, C, D and E which give the disease the same name. These viruses differ by their mode of transmission which is feco-oral for the A and E viruses and parenteral (blood or mucous) for the B and C viruses. These viruses also differ in their dangerousness.
However, these viruses have not been detected in these children with acute hepatitis. Hence the mystery surrounding this disease. According to Jean-Marc Sabatier, these acute hepatitises correspond to a Covid-19 disease and are induced by an emerging variant or sub-variant of SARS-CoV-2 (Omicron, XD, XE or others). This suggests that there is a risk that with the new vaccines based on the Omicron spike protein, the same liver inflammatory phenomenon may occur in young children vaccinated with the new vaccines.

In all organs

These Covid-19 diseases are due to a dysfunction of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) which plays a key role in the functioning of the human body (and of mammals in general).
The RAS is notably involved in renal, pulmonary and cardiovascular functions, it controls innate immunity and the intestinal, oral and vaginal microbiota. It is found in many tissues and organs including the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, reproductive organs, adrenal glands, vascular system, skin, eyes, brain…
Liver cells have the ACE2 receptor on their surface which is the target of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the vaccine spike protein.

RAS dysfunction is at the origin of Covid-19 diseases, via the over-activation of its “deleterious” receptor AT1R. This receptor has hypertensive, pro-inflammatory, pro-oxidant, pro-angiogenic, pro-fibrosis, pro-hypertrophic and nitric oxide (NO) lowering activities.
According to Jean-Marc Sabatier, these acute hepatitises are the counterpart of what we observe for the heart with myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), pericarditis (inflammation of the protective tissue of the heart) and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye).

What does the liver do?

These acute hepatitises occur in children because they have a very strong and reactive immune system, especially in terms of innate immunity. The latest emerging sub-variants of SARS-CoV-2 should promote liver inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory treatments are therefore recommended as well as a good supplementation of vitamin D, a negative regulator of RAS.

The liver performs three vital functions that are essential to our body: detoxification (elimination of toxins and waste produced by our body), metabolic synthesis (lipids, carbohydrates and proteins), energy storage (in the form of sugars) and vitamins (A, D, E, K).

* Jean-Marc Sabatier is a research director at the CNRS and holds a doctorate in Cell Biology and Microbiology, affiliated with the Institute of Neuro Physiopathology (INP), at the University of Aix-Marseille.

And if the “SRA” explained the Covid-19?