Severe COVID looks frighteningly like old age in the human brain, study reveals: ScienceAlert

Severe COVID looks frighteningly like old age in the human brain, study reveals: ScienceAlert

Heavy COVID-19 looks frighteningly like age in the human brain, according to a postmortem analysis of 54 healthy and infected people.

The study authors say their research is the first to link COVID-19 to molecular signatures of brain aging.

“We observed that gene expression in the brain tissue of patients who died of COVID-19 was very similar to that of uninfected individuals aged 71 years or older,” he says public health scientist Jonathan Lee of Harvard University.

The sample, made up of people in their early twenties to mid-eighties, includes 21 people who had severe COVID-19, one asymptomatic person and 22 people who were not infected. coronavirus.

The researchers also compared their results with an uninfected person Alzheimer’s disease disease and another group of 9 uninfected individuals with a history of hospitalization or ventilator treatment.

Using RNA sequencing technology on prefrontal cortex samples, scientists found that those with severe COVID-19 showed enriched patterns of gene expression associated with aging.

The brains of the infected people looked more similar to the older people in the control group, regardless of their actual age.

Simply put, genes that were typically up-regulated in aging, such as those related to the immune system, were also up-regulated in severe COVID-19 disease.

At the same time, genes that are downregulated during aging, such as those related to synaptic activity, cognition, and memory, were also downregulated in severe COVID-19 disease.

“We also observed significant associations of the cellular response to DNA damage, mitochondrial function, stress response regulation and oxidative stress, vesicular transport, calcium homeostasis, and insulin signaling/secretion pathways previously associated with aging processes and brain aging,” the authors piss.

“Overall, our analyzes suggest that many of the biological pathways that change with natural aging in the brain are also altered in severe COVID-19 disease.”

Ever since the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 began infecting humans on a global scale, scientists feared possible long-term consequences.

Brain damage is one of the most problematic outcomes. Severe cases of COVID-19 are often combined with brain fog, memory loss, stroke, delirium or coma. In October 2020. initial brain scans in patients with COVID-19, they found worrying signs of neurological disorders and damage.

Later studies have since found even mild COVID-19 can affect the brain, although it is not yet clear how long these changes may last or how they compare to those with severe COVID-19.

With each passing year, health experts have a slightly better idea of ​​the long-term outcomes of this global condition pandemic could bring. Three years later, it’s not looking good.

The findings of the current study build on another paperpublished earlier this year, which found that the cognitive impact of severe illness from COVID-19 is equivalent to roughly 20 years of aging.

Neuropathologist Marianna Bugiani from the University of Amsterdam told Nature the new discoveries open “a multitude of questions that are important, not only for understanding the disease, but also for preparing society for what the consequences of the pandemic might be.”

She also added that those consequences may not be clear for many years. And until then, the global community will likely suffer from repeated infections of COVID-19.

Who knows how multiple diseases will affect our cognitive power in the long run?

Interestingly, in the current study, researchers found no genetic evidence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the brains of infected patients, suggesting that the neurological consequences of the virus may not be directly due to its presence in the nervous system.

The authors, however, found evidence for this tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is associated with inflammation, brain aging and age-induced cognitive decline, was present at higher levels in the brains of infected individuals.

Genetic factors associated with the antiviral immune response were also elevated.

Authors discuss both of these pathways “can lead to significant deterioration in the brain in the absence of SARS-CoV-2 neuroinvasion.”

In light of their findings, the team says people recovering from COVID-19 should get neurological checkups. If the mere presence of this new virus is enough to cause inflammation in the brain, it’s possible that every infected person is at risk of brain damage.

Until experts learn more, the authors say doctors and patients should focus on other risk factors for dementia that are within our control, such as weight, alcohol consumption and exercise.

Avoiding future COVID-19 infections in the best possible way is also a good idea.

The study was published in Aging of nature.

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