Newswise — Researchers working with Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) have published a paper examining the possible links between neurological involvement and respiratory damage due to COVID-19. Pathways examined include neuro-immune interactions, age-related immunity decline, and some pathological mechanisms that contribute to worse outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
Although respiratory symptoms are the main clinical manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 infection, neurological involvement is clearly present. Anosmia (loss of smell), ageusia (loss of taste), cough, fatigue, and headache are reported as the most common mild neurological symptoms, while some patients can experience severe ones, such as encephalopathy and acute cerebrovascular diseases.
The researchers include SHRO Director and Founder Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., with collaborators at Temple University, and the University of Siena, Italy.
The variability of COVID-19 clinical manifestations could be explained by the ubiquitous expression of the human cell receptors with which the viral protein Spike1 can interact. Such receptors are present not only in the lower respiratory tract, but also in extrapulmonary sites such as the heart, kidney, endothelial cells of blood vessels, and the nervous system.
These observations have sparked interest in the ability of the virus to interact with different tissues and damage them directly or indirectly through the inflammatory response.
The authors conclude that neurologic symptoms are one of the clinical aspects of SARS-CoV-2 infection and are prevalently associated with conditions in which the immune system is diminished, as in elderly patients and severe clinical profiles. These neurological manifestations are associated with more severe disease, leading to a longer recovery, and higher death rates during hospitalization.