A investigation, published on Tuesday on the scientific platform medRxiv, but which is still under evaluation, indicates that the virus can promote significant changes in the structure of the cortex, the brain region richest in neurons and responsible for complex functions such as memory, attention, awareness and language.
“Patients with covid-19 may show symptoms neuropsiquiátricos and / or neurological. We found that anxiety and cognitive impairment are manifested by 28-56% of individuals infected with SARS–CoV-2 with mild respiratory symptoms or without respiratory symptoms and are associated with altered cerebral cortical thickness “, points out the study, coordinated by researchers from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) and the University of São Paulo (USP).
The investigation also found brain damage in 19% of individuals who died of covid-19 and that were under analysis.
According to the researchers, when the new coronavirus it enters the brain and attacks cells responsible for metabolic processes, hampering the production of energy and nutrition of neurons and may consequently lead to the death of brain tissue.
“All brain tissues affected exhibited foci of infection by SARS–CoV-2, particularly in astrocytes [células mais abundantes do sistema nervoso central]. A infection of astrocytes cell derived stem changes altered energy metabolism, altered key proteins and metabolites used to feed neurons (…) and triggered a phenotype secretory that reduces neuronal viability “, he added.
“Our data supports the model in which the SARS–CoV-2 hits the brain, infected astrocytes and triggers changes neuropatológicas that contribute to structural and functional changes in the brain of patients with covid-19 “, stresses the document published in medRxiv.
Speaking to G1 news portal, Clarissa Lin Yasuda, one of the coordinators of the study, declared that they found many patients who, even covid-19 about two months ago, they continued to show neurological symptoms, such as severe headaches, excessive sleepiness, altered memory, in addition to loss of smell and taste.
“In some rare cases, even seizures, and these patients had never experienced this before,” said the researcher.
The study also points to evidence that the access route to the brain is through the nose.
The investigation analyzed images of ressonância magnetic resonance in light patients, who had not yet needed hospitalization, who demonstrated a significant reduction in the cerebral cortex in some regions close to the airways, in the so-called region orbitofrontal, proving that these are changes in the brain structure.
Clarissa Lin Yasuda also stated that there are suspicions that the virus may activate genetic diseases like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
“What we do not yet know is the severity of these injuries, whether they are transient or whether they can be irreversible, so we will be monitoring these patients for the next three years to see if the virus triggers degenerative diseases in those who have some genetic potential,” explained the researcher to G1.
Brazil is the country lusophone more affected through the pandemic and one of the hardest hit in the world, when counting the second number of deaths (more than 5.1 million cases and 151,747 Deaths), after the United States.
A pandemic of covid-19 has already caused more than one million and eighty-seven thousand deaths and more than 38.2 million cases of infection around the world, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.
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