Home / News / World /  Covid-19 may increase risk of developing Parkinson's disease, finds study

Researchers have been trying to study the impact Covid-19 has on the brains of the patients for quite some time now. This is because even after recovery, people are continuing to see symptoms like brain fog, headaches and insomnia. 

Now, a new study published in the journal Movement Disorders, has found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, increase the risk of brain degeneration as seen in Parkinson's disease.

"Parkinson's is a rare disease that affects 2 per cent of the population above 55 years, so the increase in risk is not necessarily a cause for panic," said Richard Smeyne, Director from the Thomas Jefferson University, US.

"But understanding how Coronavirus impacts the brain can help us prepare for the long-term consequences of this pandemic," he added.

The study was conducted on mice that were genetically engineered to express the human ACE-2 receptor. It was observed that coronavirus was making the brain more susceptible to a toxin that induces nerve-cell loss seen in Parkinson's.

The mice were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and allowed to recover. A month after the surviving animals recovered, one group was injected with a low dose of MPTP that would not normally cause any loss of neurons.

The control group was given saline. Two weeks later, the animal's brains were examined.

The researchers found that Covid-19 infection alone had no effect on the dopaminergic neurons in the basal ganglia. However, mice that were given the low dose of MPTP after recovering from infection exhibited the classic pattern of neuron loss seen in Parkinson's disease.

This increased sensitivity after Covid-19 infection was similar to what was seen in an earlier study about influenza. 

"We think about a 'multi-hit' hypothesis for Parkinson's - the virus itself does not kill the neurons, but it does make them more susceptible to a 'second hit', such as a toxin or bacteria or even an underlying genetic mutation," said Smeyne.

This is part of a growing body of research that suggests that people who have recovered from Covid-19, including patients with milder symptoms, may have some long-lasting effects on their brains due to the virus. 

Recently, a study published in the journal eClinicalMedicine suggested that a severe Covid-19 infection may cause cognitive impairment similar to that sustained with 20 years of ageing, between 50 and 70 years of age. This is equivalent to losing about 10 IQ points.


Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Recommended For You
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsWatchlistFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout