A brand new Cleveland Clinic-led examine has recognized mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. The findings, revealed in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, point out an overlap between COVID-19 and brain changes widespread in Alzheimer’s, and might assist inform threat administration and therapeutic methods for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.
Reports of neurological issues in COVID-19 sufferers and “long-hauler” sufferers whose signs persist after the an infection clears have gotten extra widespread, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) might have lasting results on brain perform. However, it’s not but properly understood how the virus leads to neurological points.
“While some studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infects brain cells directly, others found no evidence of the virus in the brain,” says Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., assistant workers in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and lead writer on the examine. “Identifying how COVID-19 and neurological problems are linked will be critical for developing effective preventive and therapeutic strategies to address the surge in neurocognitive impairments that we expect to see in the near future.”
In the examine, the researchers harnessed artificial intelligence utilizing current datasets of sufferers with Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and these related to a number of neurological ailments the place nearer proximity suggests associated or shared illness pathways. The researchers additionally analyzed the genetic elements that enabled SARS-COV-2 to infect brain tissues and cells.
While researchers discovered little proof that the virus targets the brain immediately, they found shut community relationships between the virus and genes/proteins related to a number of neurological ailments, most notably Alzheimer’s, pointing to pathways by which COVID-19 may lead to AD-like dementia. To discover this additional, they investigated potential associations between COVID-19 and neuroinflammation and brain microvascular harm, that are each hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.
“We discovered that SARS-CoV-2 infection significantly altered Alzheimer’s markers implicated in brain inflammation and that certain viral entry factors are highly expressed in cells in the blood-brain barrier,” defined Dr. Cheng. “These findings indicate that the virus may impact several genes or pathways involved in neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which could lead to Alzehimer’s disease-like cognitive impairment.”
The researchers additionally discovered that people with the allele APOE E4/E4, the best genetic threat issue for Alzheimer’s, had decreased expression of antiviral protection genes, which might make these sufferers extra inclined to COVID-19.
“Ultimately, we hope to have paved the way for research that leads to testable and measurable biomarkers that can identify patients at the highest risk for neurological complications with COVID-19,” mentioned Dr. Cheng.
Dr. Cheng and his team are actually working to determine actionable biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for COVID-19-associated neurological points in COVID long-haulers utilizing cutting-edge community medication and artificial intelligence applied sciences.
Yadi Zhou, Ph.D.; Jielin Xu, Ph.D., and Yuan Hou, Ph.D., are co-first authors on the examine. The examine was supported by the National Institute on Aging, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and Cleveland Clinic’s VeloSano Pilot Program.
Materials supplied by Cleveland Clinic. Note: Content could also be edited for fashion and size.