The latest publication of Coen Ottenheijm, professor in the physiology department, and his research group received a lot of attention by several media, including Nieuwsuur, NOS, radio and several newspapers. This study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that COVID-19 damages the diaphragm, the major breathing muscle. This is the first publication on the effect of COVID-19 on the diaphragm.

Corona patients often suffer from shortness of breath and oxygen deficiency. The research groups of Coen Ottenheijm and Leo Heunks compared twenty-six COVID-19 patients with ten non-COVID-19 patients, all of whom were admitted to intensive care and received artificial respiration. They found an inflammatory response and connective tissue formation in the respiratory muscle in very sick COVID-19 patients.

Ottenheijm: “It is striking that, in addition to the inflammatory response and connective tissue formation, we saw that in some patients the virus was present in muscle cells. Some cells were twenty times larger than normal whereas others were very small. That probably means that the diaphragm works hard to fight the virus.”

More information about the publication of Coen Ottenheijm and colleagues can be found on the Amsterdam UMC website.