The last issue of this newsletter had an article about COVID brain studies in the UK. A recent article in Science adds to these preliminary findings. Neuroscientists in this country have noticed that the neurologic symptoms seen in many COVID patients (fatigue, brain fog, trouble remembering and headache) are very similar to those seen in other viral infections and with disorders such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and even with chemotherapy.
In addition to similar symptoms, the brains in all these cases show changes in the microglia. Microglia are the supporting and nurturing cells for the neuronal cells that allow us to think and act. It seems that immune activation of these cells in response to COVID infection causes the microglia to go into hyper drive and interfere with normal neuronal function.
Spinal taps done on patients with “COVID brain” show higher levels of immune activating proteins than normal patients. One of these proteins is CCL11, which is also found in the spinal fluid of patients with dementia.