Long Covid, here's how the virus could be able to enter the brain

Long Covid, here's how the virus could be able to enter the brain

Some patients have cognitive and neurological symptoms that may be prolonged over time. A possible explanation would be found in the hypothesis that through the spike protein the virus is able to penetrate the brain, overcoming the blood-brain barrier. The result for now on animals

(photo: Pete Linforth via Pixabay) By now we know: Covid-19 in some patients can leave aftermath once they are healed, even for a long time, with various symptoms that can last even in young people . Long Covid - as it was called by scientists - can also lead to cognitive problems (we talked about mental fog). It is no coincidence that today a study by the University of Washington School of Medicine has just shown that the virus is very likely to enter the brain, penetrating the blood-brain barrier - an element that could also explain some symptoms. cognitive and neurological that we have talked about. The results, obtained for now on animals, are published in Nature Neuroscience.

Long Covid, the assumptions

This is not the first proof that Sars-Cov-2 could enter the brain: a recent study by Yale University had identified the presence of the new coronavirus in cortical neurons in some deceased patients (the evidence had been obtained by autopsy). Research today supports this hypothesis with strong evidence, as the authors explain, observed in the mouse.

The key to everything: the spike protein

As always, we are looking for the first person responsible for the contact and contagion of the cells of the organism by the virus: the key to everything is the coronavirus spike protein that hooks cells through their Ace2 receptor, a small protein found in many tissues, which promotes contact. The spike proteins found on all viral units are harmful in themselves, as they detach from the pathogen and cause inflammation, explains William A. Banks, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "Probably - underlines Banks - the spike protein causes the release of cytokines and inflammatory products from the brain". These cytokines are inflammatory molecules (absolutely not all cytokines are) and are the main culprits, when produced in excess (the cytokine cascade), of the serious inflammation of the tissues in Covid-19, potentially even fatal. The researchers started from the fact that a similar mechanism also occurs in HIV infection and wanted to investigate whether this can also happen with Sars-Cov-2.

The results: it is worse in males

The researchers studied how the spike protein in mice acts on the brain as well. From the analysis, they observed that the protein is able to penetrate and cross the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain tissue from pathogens and foreign agents present in the blood. The spike is received by various brain areas and reaches the brain parenchyma, a nerve tissue important for the formation and transmission of electrical impulses. This happens both when the coronavirus spike protein is injected and via intranasal administration - although in this case much less.

The problems are more pronounced in males, where faster transport of the spike into the bulb is observed olfactory, the nerve center of odor recognition, and in the kidney. Even in the human being in general, the greatest risks, in terms of susceptibility to Covid-19 and complications, are found in the male sex and today's result could also have some connection with this element.

The results "Strongly suggest that the spike protein is able to overcome the blood-brain barrier in the mouse model," reads the text, which provides details on the biochemical mechanism by which this occurs. The data are valid in mice and may not even be verified in humans, as the authors specify, so at the moment caution is a must. What is certain is that several patients have long Covid and experience cognitive and neurological symptoms that are often protracted over time, including loss of smell, headache, confusion, inattention, lack of memory - which can probably be transient. Although we cannot say with certainty about the mechanisms, in short, it is possible to hypothesize that in these patients the virus is able to enter the brain.

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brain Coronavirus Long Covid Health globalData.fldTopic = "brain, Coronavirus, Long Covid, Health"

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