The coronavirus can affect the brain and “hijack” brain cells to replicate, researchers at Yale University have found.
A new study from Yale University, on BioRXiv, which is awaiting peer review, has found that the brain is another organ susceptible to attack by the new coronavirus.
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“Our study found that SARS-CoV-2 can infect brain neurons in a 3D culture of human brain cells (called organoids). We also detect infected neurons from the patient’s brain tissue. When we looked at cells infected with the virus, we see that they are very metabolically active, indicating that the virus can hijack the cellular machinery to make more copies of themselves, ”says lead researcher, the Dr Akiko Iwasaki, immunologist at Yale. University, Fox News said in an email.
As the virus infects a brain cell, it can deplete nearby brain cells of oxygen by replicating, they found.
“Because the virus can infect brain cells, it can cause significant damage to that cell and surrounding cells. We have seen cells surrounding infected neurons severely damaged and killed by the infection, ”Iwasaki told Fox News.
While the initial reports mainly concerned the respiratory symptoms of the disease, the results of this study suggest a potential neurological impact that the virus can have on many patients infected with COVID-19 if the virus attacks the brain.
“If that happens, there is probably a neurological disease associated with such an infection. In mice, infection of the brain resulted in death. It is possible that a brain infection can trigger serious neurological diseases in humans, ”Iwasaki said.
The group of researchers also looked at cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in patients with COVID-19 with acute neurological symptoms.
“We found that the cerebrospinal fluid of patients infected with COVID contained antibodies capable of preventing the virus from infecting brain cells using the 3D organoid system,” continued Iwasaki. “This suggests that there is an antibody response in the brain that can prevent the virus from infecting brain cells. ”
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As healthcare professionals learn more about SARS-CoV-2 infections, research results reveal how the virus affects multiple systems. Doctors and researchers have observed respiratory problems linked to COVID-19 infections, heart inflammation such as myocarditis, loss of smell and taste, gastrointestinal issues and now neurological effects, as detailed by l Yale study.
“Although COVID-19 is considered primarily a respiratory disease, SARS-CoV-2 affects several organ systems, including the central nervous system,” the researchers concluded in their study.