Covid-19 Linked to Alzheimers' Disease-Like Cognitive Impairment

For those of you who have been following me for a while you will know that my current struggle following my acute Covid-19 infection is my executive and cognitive dysfunction. It is interfering with my work, my relationships, my life. In previous blogs I refer to it as "a dementia I am aware of". I now have proof of this dementia. I did a series of cognitive tests as part of a research project. For some cognitive skills I have the brain of a someone 30 years older than my actual age (and this is best case scenario). There is a strong possibility that I had acute viral encephalitis during the acute infection (fever, confusion, hypoxia) and that the virus was powerful enough to inflame my heart vessels to give me angina so why will neurologists not entertain that is likely the same inflammation happened in my brain??

AND that I have the signs of an early dementia??

  • Short term memory issues

  • Difficulty in word finding

  • Change in mood

  • Difficulty in completing tasks - such as bank keeping, writing a shopping list, following a recipe

  • Difficulty in adapting - unable to drive unknown routes, unable to go to shops without someone

- My Long Covid Clinic hasn't the tools to assess my cognition. I am unable to seek help from neurologists, neurorehabilitation consultants or neuropsychologists. I have had 3 referrals rejected. My 20 plus years for working/ paying for the NHS amount to nothing. I am a GP unable to work and the government, the NHS and my peers do not care. So I will continue to post the research here. Maybe in a few years time neurologists will take note. By then it will be too late for many of us.

I do understand that maybe nothing can be done but we need to acknowledgement in the form of a diagnosis and then signposting to help us with rehabilitation. Brain training for a few minutes a day IS NOT ENOUGH to get me back to normal daily living and work!! And the effects are deep, "rest and "pacing" does not help these dementia symptoms.

This article is from Neuroscience News entitled "Covid-19 Linked to Alzheimer's Disease-Like Cognitive Impairment"

Summary: Combining artificial intelligence technology with data sets related to both Alzheimer’s and COVID-19, researchers were able to identify a mechanism by which coronavirus can lead to Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. The findings add to the growing body of evidence that COVID-19 infection can have lasting effects on brain function.

A new Cleveland Clinic-led study has identified mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia.

The findings, published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, indicate an overlap between COVID-19 and brain changes common in Alzheimer’s, and may help inform risk management and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.

Reports of neurological complications in COVID-19 patients and “long-hauler” patients whose symptoms persist after the infection clears are becoming more common, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) may have lasting effects on brain function. However, it is not yet well understood how the virus leads to neurological issues.

“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 staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and lead author on the study.“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 study, the researchers harnessed artificial intelligence using existing datasets of patients with Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and those associated with several neurological diseases where closer proximity suggests related or shared disease pathways. The researchers also analyzed the genetic factors that enabled SARS-COV-2 to infect brain tissues and cells.

While researchers found little evidence that the virus targets the brain directly, they discovered close network relationships between the virus and genes/proteins associated with several neurological diseases, most notably Alzheimer’s, pointing to pathways by which COVID-19 could lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia.

To explore this further, they investigated potential associations between COVID-19 and neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which are both 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. These findings indicate that the virus may impact several genes or pathways involved in neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which could lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like cognitive impairment.”

The researchers also found that individuals with the allele APOE E4/E4, the greatest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, had decreased expression of antiviral defense genes, which could make these patients more susceptible 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,” said Dr. Cheng.

Dr. Cheng and his team are now working to identify actionable biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for COVID-19-associated neurological issues in COVID long-haulers using cutting-edge network medicine and artificial intelligence technologies.

Funding: The study 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.

Original Research: Open access.

Network medicine links SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 infection to brain microvascular injury and neuroinflammation in dementia-like cognitive impairment” by Feixiong Cheng et al. Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy

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