Latest Study: Coronavirus Kills Brain Cells

  • As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in countries around the world, the sequelae of the coronavirus infection have caught the attention of scientists. The so-called COVID-19 sequelae are a series of new, recurrent or ongoing health problems that can occur after initial infection with SARS-CoV-2.

    Previous research has warned about the post COVID-19 condition, as WHO (World Health Organization) stated “post COVID-19 condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms and that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction but also others and generally have an impact on everyday functioning. ” 

    One of the long-term effects of the infection, according to official information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the development of "brain fog," or difficulties in thinking and concentrating. In fact, the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the brain go beyond brain fog. A previous study found that up to 84 percent of people infected developed neurological symptoms, loss of taste or smell, seizures, strokes, loss of consciousness, and confusion.

    A new study published in Nature Neuroscience on Oct. 24, 2021, may have solved this mystery, because in addition to attacking the lungs, the coronavirus can also kill brain cells.

    The study, conducted jointly by scientists from Germany, France and Spain, reported that SARS-CoV-2 can kill a type of brain cell known as endothelial cells, which are located around the brain and are responsible for protecting the cerebellum and promoting blood flow. The researchers noted that damage to endothelial cells may lead to damage to blood vessels in the brain and impair cognitive function. They said this finding may explain why up to 84 percent of people infected experience COVID-19 sequelae.

    By scanning the brains of the corpses of people with COVID-19, researchers found extremely small "ghost vessels," which are dead cells that prevent blood from flowing and are a hallmark of cognitive impairment, and may pose numerous risks, such as ministroke.

    This alarming finding inevitably raises the question: Will people once getting COVID-19 inevitably suffer from long-term brain problems?

    The study's co-author, Vincent Prévot of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), French, says that they have observed in hamsters that this phenomenon is apparently reversible, so it might be reversible in humans as well.

    In the long run, whether the damage to the brain from infection persists and affects the aging state of the damaged brain and many other questions remain unanswered definitively, and scientists will need time and further research to find answers.

    Supported by years of experience in anti-infective biomolecular discovery, Creative Biolabs has devoted tremendous efforts and dedication to developing NAbs (neutralizing antibodies) and functional peptides targeting SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).