Severe COVID looks scary like old age in human brain, study finds: ScienceAlert

Strict COVID-19[feminine] looks frighteningly like old age in the human brain, according to a post-mortem analysis of 54 healthy and infected individuals.

The study authors say their research is the first to link COVID-19 to molecular signatures of brain aging.

“We observed that gene expression in brain tissue of deceased COVID-19 patients closely resembled that of uninfected individuals 71 years of age or older,” said public health scientist Jonathan Lee of Harvard University.

The sample, made up of people in their early twenties to mid-eighties, includes 21 people who had severe COVID-19, a single asymptomatic individual, and 22 people who were not infected with the virus. coronavirus.

The researchers also compared their results to an uninfected individual with Alzheimer’s disease and another group of 9 uninfected people with a history of hospitalization or ventilator treatment.

Using RNA sequencing technology on samples from the prefrontal cortex, scientists found that people with severe COVID-19 exhibited enriched gene expression patterns associated with aging.

The brains of infected people looked more like those of older people in the control group, regardless of their actual age.

Put simply, genes that were typically upregulated in aging, such as those related to the immune system, were also upregulated in severe cases of COVID-19.

At the same time, genes downregulated in aging, such as those related to synaptic activity, cognition, and memory, were also downregulated in severe COVID-19.

“We also observed significant associations of cellular response to DNA damage, mitochondrial function, regulation of stress and oxidative stress response, vesicular transport, calcium homeostasis and pathways. insulin signaling/secretion previously associated with aging processes and brain aging,” the authors explain. write.

“Overall, our analyzes suggest that many biological pathways that change with natural aging in the brain also change in severe cases of COVID-19.

Since the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 began to infect humans globally, scientists feared possible long-term consequences.

Brain damage is one of the most problematic outcomes. Severe cases of COVID-19 are often associated with brain fog, memory loss, stroke, delirium or coma. In October 2020, initial brain scans on patients with COVID-19 have revealed concerning signs of neurological disruption and impairment.

Later studies have since found COVID-19 even mild may affect the brain, although it’s still unclear how long these changes might last or how they compare to those with severe COVID-19.

With each passing year, health experts have a better idea of ​​long-term outcomes than this global crisis. pandemic could bring. Three years later, things are not looking good.

The findings of this study follow another paperpublished earlier this year, which found that the cognitive impact of severe COVID-19 is equivalent to about 20 years of aging.

Neuropathologist Marianna Bugiani from the University of Amsterdam Told Nature the new findings open up “a plethora of questions that are important, not only for understanding the disease, but for preparing society for what the consequences of the pandemic might be.”

She also added that these consequences may not be clear for many years to come. And at that time, the global community will likely suffer from repeated COVID-19 infections.

Who knows what impact multiple diseases will have on our long-term cognitive power?

Interestingly, in the current study, the researchers found no genetic evidence for SARS-CoV-2 virus in the brains of infected patients, suggesting that the neurological consequences of the virus may not be directly due to its presence in the nervous system.

However, the authors found evidence that tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is associated with inflammation, brain aging and age-induced cognitive decline, was present at higher levels in the brains of those infected.

Genetic factors associated with antiviral immune responses were also elevated.

The authors Argue both of these pathways “may result in significant deteriorating effects in the brain in the absence of SARS-CoV-2 neuroinvasion.”

In light of their findings, the team says people recovering from COVID-19 should get neurological follow-ups. If the mere presence of this new virus is enough to trigger inflammation of the brain, it is possible that any infected individual is at risk of brain damage.

Until experts know more, the authors say doctors and patients should focus on other risk factors for dementia that we control, such as weight, alcohol consumption and exercise.

Avoiding future COVID-19 infections to the best of your ability is also probably a good idea.

The study was published in natural aging.

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