It has become known that during COVID-19 infection, individuals may lose their sense of taste and smell. In some, the disease might cause damage to the nervous system which may lead to concentration issues or even stroke. In a new study (Figure 1), researchers have described the effects of COVID-19 on the neurological system and the subsequent development of ‘neuro-COVID’.
Through the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma from people suffering from COVID-19, the team were able to detect and predict different severities of neuro-COVID. This study may offer insights into how we can mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the neurological system.
Studying 40 Covid-19 patients with neurological symptoms of varying disease, they measured the brain structures of these patients and and surveyed the participants 13 months after their illness to described lasting COVID-19 symptoms.
They were able to show affected individuals had impairment of the blood-brain barrier which was possibly triggered by the inflammatory “cytokine storm”.
They then were able to show how antibodies that targeted certain parts of the body, especially in the brain and cause damage i.e. an autoimmune response, as well as identifying how the brains’ microglia (immune cells) were activated during infection.
In order to develop a blood test to help diagnose and treat those with neuro-COVID, they found a few biomarkers which could point to potential targets for drugs subsequently mitigating the damage due to a Covid-19 infection. One of the biomarkers identified in blood, the factor MCP-3.
Journal article: Manina M. Etter, M.M, et al., 2022. Severe Neuro-COVID is associated with peripheral immune signatures, autoimmunity and neurodegeneration: a prospective cross-sectional study. Nature Communications.
Summary by Stefan Botha