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A new study on Covid-19 disease shows the virus infects brain cells called astrocytes, causing structural changes in the brain. It says as quoted by news agency ANI says that infection with SARS-COV-2 can cause brain alterations and neurocognitive dysfunction, particularly in long Covid-19, but the underlying mechanisms are elusive.

Daniel Martins-de-Souza and colleagues conducted MRI of 81 study participants recovering from mild Covid-19 infection and 81 healthy individuals to compare their brain structure. It was found that the former group exhibited reduced cortical thickness, which was correlated with cognitive impairments and symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

The authors also analyzed the brain structure of 26 people who died of Covid-19 infection and found that samples from five of these individuals exhibited tissue damage.

Further, analysis of damaged brain samples revealed that astrocytes were particularly likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and the virus enters these brain cells through NRP1 receptor.

After getting infected, astrocytes exhibited altered levels of metabolites used to fuel neurons and neurotransmitter production, and the infected cells secreted neurotoxic molecules, according to the study reported by ANI.

Basically, the research has unveiled the structural changes observed in the brains of people infected with Covid-19.

The study denotes the neurological symptoms that are among the most prevalent of the extrapulmonary complications of Covid-19, affecting more than 30% of patients. The authors said they provide evidence that severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS-CoV-2 is found in the human brain, which it infects astrocytes and neurons.

It further revealed that neuropsychiatric manifestations associated mainly with severe Covid-19 infection, long-term Covid-19 syndrome has been frequently observed after mild infection.

The authors said they used histopathological signs of brain damage in an independent cohort of 26 people who died of Covid-19 and found that among the five people who exhibited those signs, all of them had genetic material of the virus in the brain.

The study resulted in cognitive Impairments and Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Convalescent Covid-19 patients correlate with altered cerebral cortical thickness.

A cortical surface-based morphometry analysis (using a high-resolution 3T MRI) on 81 people diagnosed with mild Covid-19 infection (62 self-reported anosmias or dysgeusia) who did not require oxygen support (methodological details and patient demographics are presented in SI Appendix).


(With ANI inputs)

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