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Tue Feb 25, 2020, 02:39 PM

Do Viruses that Kill the Elderly Affect Acetlycholine Receptors (Causing Muscle Weakness)?

I am tossing this out there as an idea for study. I have searched Google Scholar and I cannot find any studies that address the issue of muscle weakness during viral infections such as coronavirus infections which seem to be especially lethal for the elderly. However we know that acute influenza can cause myasthenia gravis crisis. And myasthenia gravis is a disorder of the acteylcholine receptors which are essential for the function of skeletal muscles.

Here is a quick wiki link about acetylcholine:


Respiratory viruses are known to affect certain acetylcholine receptors in the airway--that is how they cause us to cough, releasing millions of viral particles so that we can spread the virus to everyone around us. Here is a link about RSV, the infection that keeps toddlers coughing for weeks so that all their little friends at daycare can get infected too.


So, here is my hypothesis. Respiratory infections such as influenza and coronavirus that are mild in the young and middle aged but lethal in the extreme elderly might kill because they cause a temporary affect on all the body's acteylcholine receptors. Or, the body's immune response to the virus could cause a global acetylcholine receptor blockade. In either case, a frail elderly who is already just barely getting by in terms of overall muscle strength might suddenly develop the equivalent of myasthenia gravis and have problems swallowing--which can lead to aspiration pneumonia a big killer of the elderly. Or problems getting out of bed with delayed bladder emptying, which can cause UTI and then urosepsis--another big problem for the elderly. Or loss of ability to cook, take meds and in general care for oneself which, in the elderly who take a lot of meds, can also be fatal.

What are the potential clinical applications if the lethality of certain respiratory viral infections in the elderly turns out to be due to acteylcholinesterase receptor inhibition causing generalized skeletal muscle weakness? One, we could develop screens that would check for those who have weak muscles who might be in need of specialized treatments in case of viral respiratory infection. Two, there are drugs that boost acteylcholine receptor function (including myasthenia gravis meds and my personal favorite natural adaptogen, Rhodiola Rosacea) which might restore muscle strength, allowing frail people to survive these viral infections.

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Reply Do Viruses that Kill the Elderly Affect Acetlycholine Receptors (Causing Muscle Weakness)? (Original post)
McCamy Taylor Feb 2020 OP
Karadeniz Feb 2020 #1

Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 07:18 PM

1. Fascinating! Last year both my husband and I spent 5 days in the hospital with viral,

Bacterial pneumonia...we both have a chronic leukemia, but we've noticed how our muscles have gone to the dogs as we age.

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