New research has found that the virus known to cause COVID-19 may heighten the risk of brain degeneration observed in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
For their study, the researchers used genetically engineered mice that could express the human ACE-2 receptor. It is this receptor that the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to access the cells found in human airways.
The researchers infected the mice with a SARS-CoV-2 dose that corresponded to a moderate coronavirus infection in people and then allowed them to recover. Of the total number of mice that were infected with the virus, 80% survived.
After the mice had been in recovery for about five weeks, the researchers then divided them into two groups and administered a dose of MPTP to one group and a dose of saline to another. MPTP is a chemical that causes permanent Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
The researchers sacrificed the mice two weeks after they had administered these separate doses and examined the animals’ brains. They discovered that the coronavirus infection alone had no impact on the neurons found in the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is a region in the brains of vertebrates. However, when they examined the brains of the mice that had received MPTP, they observed a pattern of neuron loss that has been observed in Parkinson’s disease.
In their report, the researchers note that the increased sensitivity seen after coronavirus infection was similar to what had been observed in the influenza study, which suggested that both influenza and the coronavirus could increase the risk of Parkinson’s development.
The first author of the study, Richard Smeyne, hypothesized that while SARS-CoV-2 itself didn’t kill the neurons, it did make them more susceptible to another hit such as a bacteria, toxin or underlying genetic mutation.
Researchers also discovered higher numbers of activated microglia in the basal ganglia of the animals that had received MPTP after recovering from SARS-CoV-2. The scientists argued that both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza caused pro-inflammatory chemicals that could cross the blood-brain barrier and activate these immune cells in the brain to be overproduced in the body.
The study’s co-lead, Peter Schmidt, revealed that the group was focused on learning more about the long-term consequences of viral infection. The researchers also plan to conduct studies that will ascertain whether vaccines can alleviate the increase in Parkinson’s pathology that is associated with previous coronavirus infections.
The study’s findings were reported in the “Movement Disorders” journal.
As more becomes known about the different factors that can trigger the onset of Parkinson’s disease, it is abundantly clear that effective remedies are needed to address this disease once it manifests. The efforts of numerous enterprises such as Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO) in looking for treatments for this condition give patients and clinicians hope that a breakthrough may be imminent.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/SILO
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