A new study led by the Cleveland Clinic has identified mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to dementia similar to Alzheimer’s disease. The findings, published in Alzheimer’s research and therapy, indicate an overlap between COVID-19 and habitual brain changes in Alzheimer’s and may help inform about risk management and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.
Reports of neurological complications in patients with COVID-19 and patients with “prolonged transport” whose symptoms persist after the disappearance of the infection are becoming more frequent, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can have lasting effects on brain function. However, it is not yet well understood how the virus causes neurological problems.
“Although some studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infects brain cells directly, others found no evidence of the virus in the brain, “says Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., assistant staff at the Cleveland Clinic Institute of Genomic Medicine and lead author of the study.” Identifying how COVID-19 and neurological problems relate is critical to developing effective preventive and therapeutic strategies to address the increase in neurocognitive disorders we hope to see in the near future. “
In the study, researchers leveraged artificial intelligence using existing data sets from Alzheimer’s and COVID-19 patients. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes / proteins and those associated with various neurological diseases, where the closest proximity suggests related or shared pathways of disease. The researchers also analyzed the genetic factors which allowed SARS-VOC-2 to infect brain tissues and cells.
Although the researchers found little evidence that the virus goes directly to the brain, they discovered close network relationships between the virus and genes / proteins associated with various neurological diseases, most notably Alzheimer’s, that pointed to pathways for COVID. -19 could lead to disease-like dementia. . To explore this further, they investigated possible associations between COVID-19 and neuroinflammation and brain microvascular lesions, which are distinctive of Alzheimer’s.
“We found that SARS-CoV-2 infection significantly altered the markers of Alzheimer’s involved in brain inflammation and that certain viral entry factors are highly expressed in blood-brain barrier cells,” he explained. Dr. Cheng. “These findings indicate that the virus may affect several genes or pathways involved in neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injuries, which can lead to cognitive impairment similar to Alzheimer’s disease. “
The researchers also found that individuals with the APOE E4 / E4 allele, the highest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, had decreased expression of defense antiviral genes, which could cause these patients to were more susceptible to COVID-19.
“Ultimately, we hope to have paved the way for research leading to verifiable and measurable biomarkers that can identify patients at the highest risk of neurological complications with COVID-19,” Dr. Cheng said.
Dr. Cheng and his team are now working to identify actionable biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for COVID-19-associated neurological problems in long-term COVID carriers using cutting-edge network drugs and artificial intelligence technologies.
Yadi Zhou et al, Network medicine links SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 infection with brain microvascular injury and neuroinflammation in dementia-like cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s research and therapy (2021). DOI: 10.1186 / s13195-021-00850-3
Citation: The study identifies how COVID-19 is related to a cognitive impairment similar to Alzheimer’s disease (2021, June 10) recovered on June 10, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021- 06-covid-linked-alzheimer-disease-like-cognitive.html
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