Home » Health » ‘Blood-Brain Barrier Leakage Linked to Brain Fog in Long Covid Patients’ – A Study Findings and Implications

‘Blood-Brain Barrier Leakage Linked to Brain Fog in Long Covid Patients’ – A Study Findings and Implications

A protein called ‘S100β’ was discovered in a patient suffering from brain fog after contracting coronavirus… Signs of leakage in the blood-brain barrier, a microvascular structure of the central nervous system, were detected.

Entered 2024.02.23 22:05 Entered 2024.02.23 22:05 Modified 2024.02.23 17:57 Views 104

Long Covid patients who reported brain fog symptoms actually showed signs of leakage in the blood-brain barrier. [사진= 게티이미지뱅크]Patients with long-term COVID-19 (Long Covid) often experience symptoms called ‘brain fog’, ranging from forgetfulness to difficulty concentrating. Research has shown that the cause of brain fog may be a leak in the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a microvascular structure of the central nervous system. This is what the Guardian reported on the 22nd (local time) based on a paper by Irish researchers published in Nature Neuroscience.

The blood brain barrier forms a very dense network of blood vessels and tissues, allowing only selected substances such as water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide to move into the brain and blocking the movement of substances such as bacteria and anticancer drugs. Professor Matthew Campbell (genetics) of Trinity College, University of Dublin, who led the study, said, “The key is to regulate the balance of substances in the blood and brain. If the balance is broken, it can cause changes in neural function, and the brain area responsible for the integrated storage of memories. “If something like this happens, it could cause great confusion,” he explained.

The researchers compared and analyzed serum and plasma samples from 76 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in March and April 2020 and 25 patients before the pandemic. As a result, they found that samples from 14 COVID-19 patients who self-reported symptoms of brain fog had higher levels of a protein called S100β than samples from asymptomatic patients or people who did not have COVID-19.

S100β is a protein produced by cells in the brain and is not normally found in the blood. Therefore, the fact that this protein was found in the blood suggests that something is wrong with the blood-brain barrier.

Afterwards, the researchers recruited 10 people who recovered from COVID-19 and 22 patients with long COVID-19. Of the 22 Long Covid patients, half (11) reported symptoms of brain fog. At that point, no one had received the COVID-19 vaccine or was hospitalized due to COVID-19.

The researchers administered dye intravenously to these people and then performed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. The results showed that long Covid patients who reported symptoms of brain fog actually showed signs of leakage in the blood-brain barrier. On the other hand, patients who were asymptomatic or recovered did not show such signs. He explained why no symptoms occurred in all patients by saying that people with a stronger blood-brain barrier may not show symptoms of brain fog even if they contract Long Covid.

A further study of a subgroup of participants found that long Covid patients with brain fog also showed signs of increased levels of proteins involved in coagulation. Professor Campbell pointed out that these results were not surprising because the destruction of proteins involved in coagulation can be closely linked to the destruction of cells lining blood vessels. “The whole concept that many neurological conditions, including brain fog, can be treated simply by modulating the integrity of the blood-brain barrier is really exciting,” he said.

This study focuses on Long Covid patients. However, although the results will need to be extensively validated, they may be linked to brain fog caused by other conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), Professor Campbell said.

Professor Paul Harrison, a psychiatrist at the University of Oxford who published early research suggesting that blood clots in the brain may be a cause of brain fog related to Long Covid, said: “In people with symptoms of brain fog, abnormalities in the lining of blood vessels in the brain occur. “This is an important study that shows that abnormal blood clotting also contributes to this,” he said. However, he pointed out that there is a limitation in that it is unclear whether the same mechanism occurs in patients later infected with the COVID-19 mutant virus or in those who have been vaccinated, given that the results were obtained from patients who contracted COVID-19 in the first wave.

Professor Claire Steves, a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College London (KCL) in the UK, pointed out that brain fog was not clearly defined and was self-reported by participants, and that the number of participants was small, which are limitations of the study. “It is therefore difficult to be sure how applicable these results are to the millions of people who experience this phenomenon,” he said.

The paper can be found at the following link:

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2024-02-23 13:07:49

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