The study found another way for the new coronavirus to enter the human brain, which can infect a new region of the brain, and says it can contribute to degenerative diseases.
The new coronavirus affects not only patients in severe or moderate conditions, but also people who have mild cases and do not yet need hospital treatment, according to research published in the prepress journal medRxiv.
According to the study carried out by Brazilian researchers, who collected 26 samples in minimally invasive autopsies in patients who died of the disease, SARS-CoV-2 infects the structure of the cortex and astrocytes, brain regions rich in “neurons and responsible for complex functions like memory, attention, consciousness and language “, and in the central nervous system, indicates the study.
Previous studies have already shown that the new coronavirus enters the brain and attacks it, but has not found a spread in astrocytes.
The coronavirus attack mechanism consists of attacking a type of cell responsible for metabolic processes, preventing the production of energy and nutrition of neurons, thus leading to the death of brain tissue. In addition, the pathogen uses the nose to enter the brain.
Although many cases of COVID-19 registered brains with a thickness less than those not affected by the disease, others found an increase in size, where atrophies were observed, and in which some degree of edema was also indicated.
Another problem is the possibility that the new coronavirus is activating genetic diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, due to 30% of those infected showing neurological or psychiatric symptoms.
“What we still do not know is the severity of these injuries, whether they are transient or if they can be irreversible, so we are going to monitor these patients for the next three years to find out if the virus triggers degenerative diseases in those who have some genetic potential”, explains the researcher Clarissa Lin Yasuda, from Unicamp.
As a result, a researcher at the State University of Campinas reported that even cured patients continued to experience the effects of the virus.
“We found many patients who, even though they were cured of COVID-19 about two months ago, continued to have 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 it before, “says researcher Clarissa Lin Yasuda.
The study’s usefulness, argue the scientists, is to highlight the importance of creating drugs to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering astrocytes and through the nose.