An international team of researchers from Europe has confirmed that brain cells are damaged in patients with severe COVID-19. Because of this, the organ will lose some of its oxygen in the future.
A study by French, Spanish and German scientists that appeared in the journal Nature Neuroscience showed that, in addition to damaging the lungs, COVID-19 can kill or negatively affect certain brain cells. These are endothelial cells located around the brain, protecting the cerebellum and facilitating blood flow.
Scientists have found that the blood then ends up in areas of the brain where it should not enter. At the second stage, when the endothelial cells completely die, “ghost vessels” are formed, through which blood no longer flows. Small areas of the brain are deprived of oxygen and glucose.
The brains of #COVID-19 patients have damaged blood vessels (more so-called string vessels representing remnants of lost capillaries); SARS-CoV-2 infects brain endothelial cells and leads to microvascular pathology via RIPK signalinghttps://t.co/vR0mgZ9EbS
— Nature Neuroscience (@NatureNeuro) October 21, 2021
Thereafter, patients are at increased risk of microhemorrhages, which indicate the risk of decreased blood flow, which can have serious consequences and lead to death.
The researchers noted that these injuries were rare and they have not yet been able to confirm a single death due to the effects of COVID-19 on the brain. “We have seen that in hamsters that develop very mild forms of COVID-19, this phenomenon is reversible, so we can hope that it can be reversible in humans as well,” they added.
Scientists also noted that they could only observe this phenomenon in patients who developed a severe form of the disease. However, in people who had a milder form of the disease, it was not possible to find any consequences for the brain.