The results of the study were published in the journal Alzheimer’s disease research and therapy.
“We discovered that infection with SARS-CoV-2 significantly altered Alzheimer’s markers involved in brain inflammation and that certain viral entry factors are highly expressed in blood-brain barrier cells. Said Feixiong Cheng, lead author of the study. “These results indicate that the virus may impact several genes or pathways involved in neuroinflammation and brain microvascular damage, which could lead to cognitive impairment similar to Alzheimer’s disease. “
For the study, the team of investigators analyzed data sets from patients with both COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s disease. Using artificial intelligence, they measured the distance between SARS-CoV-2 host genes and those associated with different neurological diseases, where closer proximity suggests linked or shared disease pathways.
The team also looked at the genetic factors that allow the SARS-CoV-2 virus to infect brain cells and tissues.
The results of the study showed that there was a close network relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and genes / proteins associated with certain neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. This could lead to COVID-19 causing Alzheimer’s type dementia.
Additional results showed that those with the APOE E4 / E4 allele had reduced expression of antiviral defense genes, which could explain why some people are more sensitive.
“While some studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 directly infects brain cells, others have found no evidence of the virus in the brain,” Cheng said. “Identifying how COVID-19 and neurological problems are linked will be essential for developing effective preventive and therapeutic strategies to deal with the surge in neurocognitive disorders that we expect to see in the near future.