A study found that SARS-CoV-2 virus can damage brain cells leading to leading to long-term neurological problems.
Many researches are being conducted to understand SARS-CoV-2 virus and its effects in detail to enhance the treatment for patients affected with the virus. A team of international scientists discovered that COVID-19 virus can directly damage vascular cells that include blood-brain barrier leading to neurological problems such as brain fog that are commonly reported from COVID-19.
This new research studied a specific brain cells that are known as cerebral vascular endothelial cells. These are a key component of blood-brain barrier, where protective wall keeps toxic or foreign components out of brain. The team of scientists investigated brain tissue of patients who died due to COVID-19 infection in order to study the effects of the virus on endothelial cells. According to the scientists, patients infected with COVID-19 were found to have increased number of dead capillaries, known as string vessels compared to a control. The scientists then conducted experiments on cell and animals demonstrating how exactly the SARS-CoV-2 virus is capable of killing these endothelial cells, which results into decreased blood flow to brain regions, leading to cognitive problems or higher risk of neurodegenerative disease.
Moreover, as per the research, this damage could be prevented as it was demonstrated on mouse models where it’s possible to stop this damaging interaction of the virus and endothelial cells. The scientists also indicate that vaccination against COVID-19 could also lower the damage to the blood-brain barrier. Even if this study is thorough, it still does not confirm the effects of SARS-CoV-2 virus on human brain. As the study was conducted on the deceased brain tissue samples, it is hard to conclude with surety that the signs observed on these brain tissues were caused by the virus.