Presence of plaques in the brain can explain long Covid, says study

Indian researchers have identified the first evidence that Covid-19 can cause physical changes in the brain. The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the North American Society of Radiology, which takes place next week, and features detailed imaging examinations of patients diagnosed with long-term Covid.

In the images, it is possible to notice a difference between the brains of the 46 participants recovered from Covid-19 and 30 people who never contracted the disease.

Most individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 have changes in the circulation of small blood vessels in the frontal lobe and brainstem areas of the brain, causing mineral plaque to build up in the organ. Healthy participants lacked the trait.

According to the researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology and lead author of the study, Sapna Mishra, the brain regions analyzed are related to fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression and cognitive problems, such as difficulties in speech and motor coordination.

The accumulation of plaques observed in the frontal lobe revealed changes in the white matter of the brain. It is found in the deepest tissue layers of the organ and is made up of millions of nerve fibers that connect parts of the brain and link it to the spinal cord.

According to scientists, changes in white matter can cause difficulty in exchanging information, leading to problems with memory, mobility and balance.

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Composition of the plates

The plaques found by scientists in the frontal lobe were composed of three elements:

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  • Portions of the left inferior orbital frontal gyrus, which is a key region for language comprehension and production;
  • Parts of the right inferior orbital frontal gyrus, concerned with attention, motor inhibition, imagination, social cognitive processes, and speech and language processing;
  • White mass.

Other discoveries

Researchers from Sapna’s team also found significant differences in the right ventral diencephalon region of the brain. The area coordinates many important bodily functions, such as releasing hormones and sending sensory and motor signals to the outer surface of the brain.

The highlighted functions are responsible for processing thought, emotions, language and memory. In addition, they regulate the body’s natural clock.

future perspective

Scientists say the study is the first to highlight how the Sars-CoV-2 virus affects the actual composition of the brain, causing the symptoms of long-term Covid.

“Our study highlights this new aspect of the neurological effects of Covid-19 and reports significant abnormalities in survivors of the infection,” explains Sapna in the study’s disclosure article submitted prior to the presentation to the North American Society of Radiology.

She adds that the work points to serious long-term complications that can be caused by the coronavirus even months after recovery from the infection. The team continues to follow the same group of patients to determine if the brain abnormalities persist for a longer period of time.

It should be remembered that the accumulation of plaques in the brain is also strongly associated with Alzheimer’s. In this way, Indian research can also help to understand dementia and raise awareness of the diagnosis of the disease.

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The post Presence of plaques in the brain can explain long Covid, says study first appeared on Metropolis.

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