COVID-19’s impact on the brain: Immune response may cause damage

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A small cadaver study found that immune response to COVID-19 infection may lead to damage to blood vessels in the brain. LuisPortugal/Getty Images Previous research links COVID-19 infection to brain issues, such as “brain fog” and neurological issues.

In a very small cadaver study, researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that antibodies created by the body in response to COVID-19 infection can cause damage to blood vessels in the brain, causing neurological symptoms. Scientists believe the discovery of antibody-driven immune complexes on endothelial cells in the brain suggests immune-modulating therapies may help long COVID patients. All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.

Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, clinicians are learning more about the long-term effects of the disease on a person’s overall health.

Some coronavirus patients continue to feel the effects of the condition months after initial infection, experiencing long COVID.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source recently announced new findingsTrusted Source that may have relevance to our understanding of long-term COVID effects. Their new study states the body’s immune response to infection from COVID-19 damages blood vessels in the brain, causing neurological symptoms. The study was recently published in the journal Brain.

COVID-19 and the brain: What we know

The new study is not the first time research has looked at the effects of COVID-19 on the brain. A previous studyTrusted Source found prior COVID-19 infection was associated with various brain changes, including a greater reduction in global brain volume. And other research showed having COVID-19 may decrease a person’s gray matter volume in the brain. Researchers have also connected COVID-19 with neurological and mental health conditionsTrusted Source and brain complications like stroke and brain hemorrhage.

Past research also shows the coronavirus continues to impact the brain in patients experiencing long COVID symptoms, such as “brain fog” and other brain changesTrusted Source. Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Avindra NathTrusted Source, clinical director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the present study’s senior author.

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