New research conducted by neuroradiologists, neurologists and neuropathologists from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, has found that the virus that causes the coronavirus, the SARS-CoV-2, also causes considerable neurological damage to a patient’s brain.
Study lead James E. Goldman stated that there has been a weighty debate about whether the ailment infects the brain. However, the study, which he conducted with assistant professor of neurology Kiran T. Thakur and professor Pater D. Canoll, who specializes in pathology and cell biology, showed no signs of the virus inside the brain cells of coronavirus patients.
Goldman, who also specializes in pathology and cell biology in psychiatry, added that they did find some pathological changes in the coronavirus patients’ brains, which could explain why seriously ill patients experienced delirium and confusion, among other severe neurological effects. In addition, Goldman noted that even individuals who had mild cases of the disease could possibly experience brain fog for weeks or even months.
The research, which was reported in the “Brain” journal, is the most detailed and biggest coronavirus brain autopsy study published hitherto. Its findings suggest that the neurological changes often observed in patients may be the result of inflammation set off by the virus in the blood vessels in the brain or in other parts of the body.
The study assessed the brains of more than 40 coronavirus patients who had died from complications related to the disease in the course of their hospitalization. The researchers noted that all patients were between the ages of 38 and 97 and had lung damage caused by the coronavirus. Additionally, they found that the majority of them were of Hispanic ethnicity and nearly half of them had been intubated.
The scientists used various methods, including RNA in situ hybridization, to detect any virus in the glia cells and neurons of the brain. They carried out tests on more than 24 brain regions, which include the olfactory bulb, where they found no evidence of viral RNA or protein.
However, they did find considerable brain pathology. Goldman explained that they found hypoxic damage in some areas of the brain, which wasn’t abnormal, given that all of the patients had severe lung disease. He added that the damage was caused by blood clots, which tentatively stop the supply of oxygen to some areas in the brain. Blood clots are common in patients with serious coronavirus infections.
Researchers are now assessing autopsies on patients who succumbed to the illness a few months after they’d recovered. Goldman also asserted that more research was needed to understand why some coronavirus patients continued experiencing symptoms even after recovering.
This research on the harms of the coronavirus upon the brain underscores how important the services (including distributing rapid COVID-19 test kits, for example) of companies such as United Medical Equipment Business Solutions Network Inc. are in the fight to keep the adverse effects of the disease minimal.
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