Despite neurological problems that have been widely documented, the novel coronavirus does not have significant direct effects on the brain, a current paper suggests.
The brains of 43 COVID-19 patients who died in intensive care units, nursing homes, standard hospital wards, or at home have been studied by researchers. In the brain stem, they found COVID 19 proteins, but little frontal lobe involvement.
They also saw boosts in astrocytes, signaling annihilation of nearby neurons. Because major illness itself can contribute to this finding, it is not clear that COVID-19 is the primary consequence.
Researchers said the existence of the virus was not correlated with the magnitude of the changes in brain tissue.
All the brains, however, displayed signs of neuroimmune activation. In The Lancet Neurology, the authors speculate that the neurological symptoms of patients could be due to the response of the immune system, rather than direct central nervous system damage from the virus.
They have begun to characterize the immune response in the brain to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They believe that some of the neurological symptoms seen in COVID-19 patients may explain the neuroimmune reaction as a factor.