Verifying reports of confusion and brain fog, new research shows how the coronovirus attacks and kills brain cells to churn out more copies of itself.
In a study conducted online this week, scientists around the world showed that the virus deforms brain cells, using their machinery, which was posted online this week.
And in the process, the infection sucks oxygen from other cells of the brain, which it has invaded, eventually killing them.
So far, the effect of coronovirus on the brain does not appear to have killed COVID-19 patients, but researchers say an uncontrolled infection in brain cells could be fatal.
The image of a microscope shows one of the laboratory-developed brains with researchers infected with coronovirus to see how the virus took over the cell machinery and deprived neurons surrounding oxygen. They also see antibodies that help prevent the virus from latching onto a particular receptor at work (white), suggesting antibodies may prevent brain infection.
Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, a Yale University immunologist, and his team used human brain ‘organoids’ – small laboratory-grown brains made of human stem cells – and mice to study the invasion of coronovirus in real time.
In organoids, SARS-CoV-2 not only captured the machinery of brain cells, it also shifted them into higher gear.
The study authors wrote, “The hypermetabolic state is unique to SARS-CoV-2 infected cells and exposes SARS-CoV-2’s ability to hijack the host neuron machinery.”
While infected brain cells were busy ejecting more copies of the virus, it found the surrounding environment to be toxic.
According to the new study, adjacent cells go into a break down mode – called catabolic metabolism.
As researchers have conducted previous studies on COVID-19 and the brain, they suspect they found signs of oxygen deficiency in and around those neighboring cells.
The combined effect sent these cells into their death spiral, as did the ‘cell death upregulation’ processes in the scientific context.
Brain cells, called neurons, communicate with each other through electrical signals.
In a healthy brain, these impulses move rapidly and rapidly through a vast network of neurons, such as large and intricately connected information superhives.
But, like pits on a road, patches of dead cells impede the flow of that information.
As a result, people with traumatic brain injury or early stage Alzheimer’s may have ‘brain fog’ as information about these dead areas in the brain.
Viral infections usually do not last long enough to cause Alzheimer’s catastrophe, but if a virus is killing brain cells, as SARS-CoV-2 feels, it also clouds cognition. May cause delirium.
And studies suggest that this is for a significant portion of patients with COVID-19.
Research published in June in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 84 percent of COVID-19 patients developed neurological symptoms, such as headaches, delirium, trouble with memory or attention, and a burning or stinging sensation.
Another study found that about a third of the patients had neurological symptoms.
The autopsy in patients who died of coronovirus found signs of a dangerous form of brain inflammation. Some of his brain cells also died.
Now that it is clear that the coronovirus can attack the brain, scientists need to know how it gets there, and what to do about it, both are not clear.
However, in an encouraging development, the authors of the new study, published on Wednesday, found antibodies against infection in the cerebrospinal fluid of a COVID-19 patient.
When they exposed a brain organ to these antibodies, immune proteins successfully prevented the brain developed in the laboratory from becoming infected.
This is an encouraging sign that a vaccine or antibody treatment being developed – if proven safe in every test – can protect the brain from coronavirus.