Corona virus does not affect nerve cells, yet the disease can affect brain functions.
Researchers at the University and University Hospital Basel have now identified an “exaggerated immune response” as the cause. General long-term neuronal damages of a Covid-19 infection are the loss of the sense of smell and taste or even more severe consequences such as persistent concentration deficits up to strokes, the University of Basel announced on Monday.
Corona can impair the blood-brain barrier
Researchers led by Gregor Hutter of the Department of Biomedicine have published new findings on these “neuro-covid” phenomena in the Nature Communications journal. The study included 40 Covid 19 patients with varying degrees of neurological symptoms. Their cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma were examined. In addition, the brain structures were measured.
Connection with “exaggerated immune reaction
According to the release, a connection with an “excessive immune reaction” was found. On the one hand, this resulted in an impairment of the blood-brain barrier. The researchers now suspect that autoantibodies entered the brain through the holey border and caused damage there.
Changes in brain structures detected
In addition, changes in brain structures had been detected, they added. It said that affected individuals with severe corona symptoms had a reduced volume at specific sites in the brain compared to healthy subjects. The olfactory center, i.e., the olfactory area, was particularly affected.
Brain functions can be impaired by corona disease.
Based on the study’s findings, the Basel researchers now conclude that ways must be found to detect the “overshooting immune response” at an early stage and slow it down with medication. The goal would be a blood test that could predict severe courses and long-term damage at the beginning of a corona infection. This would enable drugs to be targeted early on at the points of attack that have now been discovered.
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