A new study from the University of Washington Health Sciences / UW Medicine strongly states that the Covid-19 virus can show cognitive effects to patients such as brain fog and fatigue.
The study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19, can enter the brain. Researchers, using a mouse model, found that the spike protein, often represented as the virus’s red arms, can cross the blood-brain barrier in mice.
The spike protein, often called the S1 protein, determines where the virus can enter. Usually, the virus does the same thing as its binding protein, said lead author William A. Banks, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a physician and researcher in the Puget Sound Veterans Health System.
Banks said: “Binding of proteins like S1 usually alone causes damage when they detach from the virus and cause inflammation. The S1 protein likely causes the brain to release cytokines and inflammatory products.”
In scientific circles, the intense inflammation caused by Covid-19 infection is called a cytokine storm. The immune system, seeing the virus and its proteins, overreacts in an attempt to kill the invading virus. The infected person is left with brain fog, fatigue and other cognitive problems.
Banks and his team saw this reaction with the HIV virus and wanted to see if the same was happening with SARS CoV-2.
Banks said: “The S1 protein in SARS-CoV2 and the GP 120 protein in HIV-1 work in a similar way. They are glycoproteins – proteins that contain a lot of sugars, characteristics of proteins that bind to other receptors “.
The researchers also found that both of these proteins function as arms and hands for their viruses by clinging to other receptors. Both cross the blood-brain barrier and S1, like gp120, is likely toxic to brain tissues.
Fifteen people in the lab started their S1 protein experiments in April. They enlisted longtime collaborator Jacob Raber, a professor in the departments of behavioral neuroscience, neurology, and radiation medicine, and his team at Oregon Health & Science University.
The study could explain many of the complications of Covid-19.
“A further explanation is that the virus enters the respiratory centers of the brain and causes problems there too,” Banks said.
As for the people who take the virus lightly, Banks said, “You don’t want to mess with this virus. Many of the effects of the Covid virus could be accentuated or perpetuated or even caused by the virus entering the brain and those effects could last for a very long time. ”
(This story was published by a branch agency with no text changes.)
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