In a detailed molecular analysis of tissue from the brains of individuals who died of COVID-19, NOMIS Awardee Tony Wyss-Coray and colleagues discovered extensive signs of inflammation and neurodegeneration, but no sign of the virus that causes the disease. Their findings were published in Nature.
The most comprehensive molecular study to date of the brains of people who died of COVID-19 turned up unmistakable signs of inflammation and impaired brain circuits.
Investigators at the Stanford School of Medicine and Saarland University in Germany report that what they saw looks a lot like what’s observed in the brains of people who died of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The findings may help explain why many COVID-19 patients report neurological problems. These complaints increase with more severe cases of COVID-19. And they can persist as an aspect of “long COVID,” a long-lasting disorder that sometimes arises following infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. About one-third of individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 report symptoms of fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating and depression, said Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford.
Yet the researchers couldn’t find any signs of SARS-CoV-2 in brain tissue they obtained from eight individuals who died of the disease. Brain samples from 14 people who died of other causes were used as controls for the study.
“The brains of patients who died from severe COVID-19 showed profound molecular markers of inflammation, even though those patients didn’t have any reported clinical signs of neurological impairment,” said Wyss-Coray, who is the D. H. Chen Professor II.
Continue reading this Stanford Medicine release
Read the Nature publication: Dysregulation of brain and choroid plexus cell types in severe COVID-19
D. H. Chen Professor II
COVID-19 and the Brain
NOMIS RESEARCH PROJECT