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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 22, 2023  1 month, 4 weeks, 2 days, 3 hours, 37 minutes ago

BREAKING COVID-19 News! Study Finds Persistent Para-Infectious Brain Injury Beyond Acute Phase With Many Showing Upregulated Biomarkers Months After!

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BREAKING COVID-19 News! Study Finds Persistent Para-Infectious Brain Injury Beyond Acute Phase With Many Showing Upregulated Biomarkers Months After!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 22, 2023  1 month, 4 weeks, 2 days, 3 hours, 37 minutes ago
COVID-19 News: The COVID-19 pandemic has not only challenged global health systems but has also unraveled numerous complications, including a spectrum of neurological issues. Ranging from mild symptoms like headaches and myalgia to severe conditions such as encephalitis, seizures, and strokes, the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on the nervous system has become a significant concern.

Despite in vitro studies suggesting the ability of the virus to infect neurons and astrocytes, autopsy findings have questioned the direct invasion of the virus into the brain. Instead, researchers hypothesize that the neurological manifestations may result from indirect mechanisms such as inflammatory mediators, immune responses, autoantibodies, and changes in the blood-brain barrier.
The study findings from a recent study covered in this COVID-19 News report by researchers from the University of Liverpool and King's College London led COVID-19 Clinical Neuroscience Study (COVID-CNS) and also involves scientists from the ISARIC4C consortium, the Pandemic Institute and the NIHR BioResource shows  that during the acute phase (when symptoms are developing quickly) there is production of key inflammatory proteins and brain injury markers, but surprisingly there is still on-going robust biomarker evidence of brain (neuroglial) injury in COVID-19 even months after discharge from hospital.
Professor Benedict Michael, Principal Investigator and Director of the University of Liverpool's Infection Neuroscience Laboratory and Honorary Consultant Neurologist, The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust said: "Our study shows that markers of brain injury are present in the blood months after COVID-19, and particularly in those who have had a COVID-19-induced brain complication (e.g. inflammation, or stroke), despite resolution of the inflammatory response in the blood. This suggests the possibility of ongoing inflammation and injury inside the brain itself which may not be detected by blood tests for inflammation.”
Understanding Acute Brain Injury Markers
To unravel the complexities of COVID-19's impact on the nervous system, a comprehensive study was conducted in the UK study team, involving 203 hospitalized participants. Among them, 111 had acute sera collected 1–11 days post-admission, and 92 had convalescent sera, with 56 presenting COVID-19-associated neurological diagnoses. Brain injury markers, including neurofilament light (NfL), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), total tau (tTau), and ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1), were measured in comparison to 60 uninfected controls. The results revealed a significant elevation in these markers in COVID-19 participants, with those experiencing neurological complications displaying higher levels of NfL and GFAP, indicating acute neuroglial injury associated with the viral infection.
Persistence of Brain Injury Markers in Convalescent Phase
This study went beyond the acute phase, shedding light on the convalescent period's implications. Participants recovering from neurological complications continued to exhibit elevated le vels of NfL and GFAP beyond six weeks post-admission. This persistence suggests an ongoing neuroglial injury, even after the resolution of acute infection, emphasizing the long-term impact on the brain. These findings challenge the assumption that neurological complications are limited to the acute phase, highlighting the need for extended monitoring and care for individuals recovering from such complications.
Correlation Between Inflammatory Mediators and Brain Injury
In the acute phase, the study explored the relationship between altered consciousness and inflammatory mediators, identifying a correlation between elevated levels of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-12p40, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), and IL-1RA. This association between altered consciousness and specific immune mediators suggests a direct link between dysregulated immune responses and neurological complications. Network analysis further revealed clusters of pro-inflammatory mediators associated with brain injury markers, providing insights into the complex interplay between the immune system and the nervous system during acute infection.
Evolution of Cytokine Networks in Convalescent Phases
While inflammatory mediators decreased during convalescent periods, the study observed late elevations in tTau that correlated with specific immune mediators. This indicates a persistent systemic inflammatory response associated with ongoing neuroinflammation even after the acute phase. The evolving nature of cytokine networks further emphasizes the need for a dynamic understanding of immune responses throughout the course of the disease. Differential immune responses between participants with acute neurological dysfunction and those recovering from neurological complications underscore the complexity of the host's immune landscape.
Autoantibody Responses in COVID-19
The study extended its investigation to adaptive immune responses, revealing increased IgG autoantibody responses in acute COVID-19 participants. Notably, autoantibodies against central nervous system (CNS) antigens were more common in participants with altered consciousness, suggesting a potential association between adaptive immune responses and neurological manifestations. In the convalescent phase, autoantibodies to human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antigens distinguished participants with and without neurological complications. This shift in autoantibody specificity over time hints at the dynamic nature of the adaptive immune response in COVID-19.
Implications for Therapy
The comprehensive findings of this study suggest that neuroglial injury markers, immune mediators, and autoantibody responses could serve as potential targets for therapy. Understanding the intricate relationship between the immune system and brain injury is crucial for developing effective treatments for neurological complications associated with COVID-19. As the world grapples with the long-term effects of the pandemic, this study provides significant insights into the persistent impact of COVID-19 on the central nervous system.
In conclusion, the groundbreaking UK study illuminates the intricate relationship between COVID-19 and neurological complications, providing detailed insights into both the acute and persistent impact on the brain. The identification of specific biomarkers associated with ongoing brain injury beyond the acute phase opens new avenues for further research and therapeutic interventions. As the global community continues to navigate the long-term consequences of the pandemic, this study contributes significantly to our understanding of COVID-19's complex impact on the central nervous system. It emphasizes the importance of extended monitoring and care for individuals recovering from neurological complications, urging a holistic approach to address the multifaceted challenges posed by this novel coronavirus.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Nature Communications.
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