Scientists recently discovered that SARS-CoV-2 virus-infected people show signs of severe brain injury and inflammation, including a reduction in oxygen and blood flow into the brain, neuron damage, and even small areas of hemorrhage.
Researchers at Tulane University explained how Covid affects the central nervous system of humans. The observation is the first comprehensive report of neuropathology in a nonhuman primate model linked with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
These findings by researchers were published in the journal ‘Nature Communications.’
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However, what’s interesting, is that similar findings were noticed in people who never had any serious respiratory infection from the virus.
Tracy Fischer, Ph.D., the lead investigator and associate professor in microbiology and immunology at Tulane National Primate Research Centre, has been studying the brain for decades now. Fischer began studying the brain tissues of many infected animals soon after the primate center launched its COVID-19 pilot program in mid-2020.
Fischer’s preliminary reports showed that the level of brain damage caused by SARS-Cov-2 is severe. Over the next few years, she tried to ensure the results were traceable to the illness.
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Fischer said, “Because the subjects didn’t experience significant respiratory symptoms, no one expected them to have the severity of disease that we found in the brain. But the findings were distinct and profound, and undeniably a result of the infection.”
The findings also aligned with COVID-19 related deaths, suggesting that non-human models of primates will be a good model to determine the human experience. Neurological infections are amongst the first symptoms of the infection that can be severe and even long-lasting.
As per Fischer, this study as well as the ones in the future that focus on how SARS-CoV-2 impacts the human brain will help in better understanding and treatment of patients suffering from neurological effects of COVID-19 and long Covid.
(With inputs from agencies)