The body’s inflammatory response to Covid-19 infection could cause brain damage, say scientists from the United States National Institutes of Health in a medical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Specialists from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke conducted an examination on 19 people who died from Covid-19 between March and July 2020, to analyze how the disease can affect the brain.
The study findings revealed that while the disease does not directly affect the brain, its impact on the immune system can lead to brain damage.
The American researchers detected damage to the olfactory bulb, an area that controls the sense of smell, and to the brain stem, which controls breathing and heart rate.
“We found that the brains of patients who contract SARS-CoV-2 infection may be susceptible to damage to their blood vessels. Our results suggest that this may be caused by the body’s inflammatory response to the virus, ”Dr. Avindra Nath said in a statement.
Narth added, “We hope these results help clinicians understand the full spectrum of problems that patients may experience so that we can find better treatments.”
Despite the damage detected in the brain tissue samples, the researchers found no signs of the presence of Covid-19 in them, suggesting that the deterioration was not caused by a direct viral attack on the brain.
“We were completely surprised. Originally, we expected to see damage caused by lack of oxygen. Instead, we see multifocal areas of damage that are generally associated with strokes and neuroinflammatory diseases, ”Nath noted.
The medical specialist concludes by saying that in the future, the group of medical researchers that he directs plans to study “how Covid-19 damages the blood vessels of the brain and if this produces some of the short and long-term symptoms that we see in patients ”.