COVID-19 infection in crucial brain regions may lead to accelerated brain aging

Summary: The effects of COVID-19 infection on neurological health are increasingly apparent. A new study reveals that COVID-19 can predispose people to irreversible neurological conditions, accelerate brain aging and increase the risk of stroke and brain bleeds.

Source: Houston Methodist

A new study by Houston Methodist researchers reviews emerging information and evidence that suggests COVID-19 infections can have short- and long-term neurological effects.

Key findings include that COVID-19 infections may predispose individuals to developing irreversible neurological conditions, may increase the likelihood of strokes, and may increase the risk of developing persistent brain damage that can lead to brain bleeds.

Led by corresponding authors Joy Mitra, Ph.D., Instructor, and Muralidhar L. Hegde, Ph.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, with the DNA Repair Division within the Center for Neuroregeneration at the Houston Methodist Research Institute , the research team described their findings in a paper titled “SARS-CoV-2 and the Central Nervous System: Emerging Insights into Hemorrhage-Associated Neurological Consequences and Therapeutic Considerations” in the journal Aging Research Journals.

Still a major burden in our daily lives, extensive research has shown that the impacts of the disease go far beyond the actual moment of infection. Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has exceeded the death toll by more than 5.49 million worldwide and more than 307 million confirmed positive cases, with the United States accounting for nearly 90 million of those cases. according to the Our World in Data website. .

COVID-19 is known to invade and infect the brain, among other major organs. Although much research has been conducted to help us understand the course, infection, and pathology of the disease, many uncertainties remain about the long-term effects, especially on the brain.

Coronavirus infection can cause long-term and irreversible neurodegenerative diseases, especially in the elderly and other vulnerable populations. Several brain imaging studies of COVID-19 victims and survivors have confirmed the formation of microhemorrhage lesions in deeper brain regions related to our cognitive and memory functions.

In this review study, researchers critically assessed the possible chronic neuropathological outcomes in aging and comorbid populations if timely therapeutic intervention is not implemented.

Microhemorrhages are emergent neuropathological signatures frequently identified in people with chronic stress, depressive disorders, diabetes, and age-related comorbidities. Based on their previous findings, researchers discuss how COVID-19-induced microhemorrhagic injury can exacerbate DNA damage in affected brain cells, leading to neuronal senescence and activation of death mechanisms cells, which ultimately impact the microstructure and vasculature of the brain.

These pathological phenomena resemble the hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and are likely to aggravate advanced dementia, as well as cognitive and motor deficits.

It shows a brain
Still a major burden in our daily lives, extensive research has shown that the impacts of the disease go far beyond the actual moment of infection. Image is in public domain

The effects of COVID-19 infection on various aspects of the central nervous system are currently being studied. For example, 20-30% of patients with COVID-19 report a persistent psychological condition known as “brain fog” where individuals suffer from symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness daily activities, difficulty selecting the right words, taking longer than usual to complete a regular task, disoriented thought processes and emotional numbness.

The more serious long-term effects analyzed in the Houston Methodist review article include predispositions to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative diseases, as well as cardiovascular disorders due to internal bleeding and damage caused by blood clotting in the part of the brain that regulates our respiratory system. , following symptoms of COVID-19.

Additionally, cellular aging is thought to be accelerated in COVID-19 patients. A plethora of cellular stresses prevent virus-infected cells from carrying out their normal biological functions and let them enter “hibernation mode” or even die completely.

The study also suggests various strategies to improve some of these long-term neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative outcomes, as well as highlights the importance of the “nanozyme” treatment regimen in combination with various FDA-approved drugs that may prove effective in combating against this catastrophic disease.

However, given the ever-evolving nature of this field, associations like those described in this review show that the fight against COVID-19 is far from over, say investigators, and reinforce the message that getting vaccinated and maintaining good hygiene are essential in trying to prevent these long-term and detrimental consequences.

About this COVID-19 and neurology research news

Author: Press office
Source: Houston Methodist
Contact: Press Office – Houston Methodist
Image: Image is in public domain

See also

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Original research: Free access.
“SARS-CoV-2 and the central nervous system: new information on the neurological consequences associated with hemorrhage and therapeutic considerations” by Joy Mitra et al. Aging Research Journals


SARS-CoV-2 and the central nervous system: new information on the neurological consequences associated with hemorrhage and therapeutic considerations

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to impact our lives by causing widespread illness and death and poses a threat due to the possibility of emerging strains. SARS-CoV-2 targets angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) before entering vital organs in the body, including the brain. Studies have shown that systemic inflammation, cellular senescence, and multi-organ failure induced by viral toxicity occur during infectious periods.

However, prognostic surveys suggest that acute and long-term neurological complications, including susceptibility to irreversible neurodegenerative diseases, may be a serious concern for COVID-19 survivors, especially the elderly population.

As emerging studies reveal sites of SARS-CoV-2 infection in different parts of the brain, the potential causes of chronic damage including cerebral and deep microhemorrhages, and the likelihood of developing stroke-like pathologies increase, with critical long-term consequences, especially for people with comorbid neuropathological and/or age-related diseases.

Our recent studies linking blood breakdown products to genome instability, leading to cellular senescence and ferroptosis, raise the possibility of similar neurovascular events following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

In this review, we discuss the neuropathological consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection in COVID survivors, focusing on possible hemorrhagic damage in brain cells, its association with aging, and future directions of the development of mechanism-guided therapeutic strategies.

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