Scientists from La Trobe University found the cause of the neurological conditions seen in patients with long COVID, such as brain fog.
The study provides the first indications that some of the neurological symptoms of long-COVID are being caused by amyloid clumps appearing in the brain that are similar to those that cause Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
The research is published in Nature Communications and was conducted by Dr. Nick Reynolds et al.
Long COVID is marked by neurological symptoms such as memory loss, sensory confusion, severe headaches, and even stroke in up to 30 percent of cases, which can persist for months after the infection is over.
While there is evidence that the virus can enter the brain of infected people, the precise mechanisms causing these neurological symptoms are unknown.
In the study, the researchers examined if similar amyloid clumps could be formed from fragments of protein from SARS-CoV-2.
They found two such protein fragments that readily form amyloids, called ORF6 and ORF10, and that these are highly toxic to brain cells grown in a lab.
The findings of aggregates of SARS-Cov-2 proteins in people with long COVID may explain the condition known as “brain fog.”
These toxic clumps of protein, or amyloid assemblies, appear to be similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease and may be responsible for some of the neurological symptoms of long-COVID.
The researchers suggest that aggregates of SARS-CoV-2 proteins may trigger neurological symptoms in COVID-19 that many call brain fog.
The authors cautioned that the implications of the changes were unclear and did not necessarily suggest people might have lasting damage or that the changes might profoundly affect thinking, memory, or other functions.
If further studies confirm that amyloid clumps are contributing to long-COVID, then drugs that have been developed to combat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may be repurposed to treat these debilitating neurological symptoms.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about antibodies that block all the COVID-19 variants, and vitamin D levels could determine the severity of COVID-19 infection.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about common asthma drugs that could help treat COVID-19, and results showing people over 50 years old may get shingles after COVID-19.
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