Study coordinated by unicamp and for USP It was found that Covid-19 can cause neurological problems even in patients with mild symptoms of the disease. According to the scientists, the volunteer researchers showed atrophy in the area of the brain responsible for thinking and attention.
at CampinasThe study was conducted by the Neuroproteins Laboratory in unicamp. According to the researchers, this is the largest research conducted in Brazil to understand the mechanism of Covid-19 infection in the brain. In all, 80 researchers participated.
At Hospital de Clínicas (HC) in unicamp 81 MRI scans of patients who had developed mild symptoms of the disease about two months before the examination and who complained of neurological problems were analyzed.
In general, the scans identified atrophy in the frontal region of the brain, a fact that surprised scientists. This brain region is responsible for attention and thinking.
The professor of neurology at the Faculty of Medicine stressed, “We did not expect to see atrophy in a group of patients who were not admitted to the hospital in such a short period… for us, it was a surprise.” unicamp Clarissa Yasuda.
Professor at Unicamp, Clarisa Yasuda is one of the researchers involved in a study on Covid-19 in the brain – Image: clone/EPTV
The researcher said that patients, even with mild symptoms, have complaints related to anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment. In some cases, there are reports of memory loss and rapid brain processing.
“Complaints of fatigue, drowsiness, headache, symptoms of anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment predominate. Language, from finding words.”
Neuroscientist at unicampÍtalo Aventurato explained that the areas of the brain responsible for thinking and attention function in an exaggerated manner in the Covid-19 patients studied in the research.
“People with Covid-19 seem to have a hard time adjusting their emotions. These feelings end up reproducing abnormally in the brain, leading to the symptoms of depression and anxiety that we often see in patients.”
Covid-19 target in the brain: astrocytes
The work also examined brain tissue from people who died of Covid-19 and analyzed the materials produced with stem cells. Cross-referencing the information led scientists to discover that astrocytes are the preferred cells for disease.
According to the researchers, astrocytes are astrocytes that support neurons. For comparison, these cells act as fuel pumps for neurons, the most important components of the brain.
The researchers explained that neurons are on all the time, including during sleep. That’s why they need a constant supply. This is the importance of astrocytes.
Astrocytes are cells attacked by Covid-19 in the brain, reports a study by Unicamp – Image: Reproductive / EPTV
study unicamp She determined that the Covid-19 virus directly interferes with this nerve cell’s energy source, impairing its functioning. The effect may be neuronal death provided by an injured astrocyte.
“This means, in a way, that infection of astrocytes with the novel coronavirus, by SARS-CoV-2, produces a toxic environment for neurons that can lead to their death,” he added.
With evidence of where the infection occurred, scientists are now focusing on the virus’s mechanism of action to develop strategies to combat the consequences.
“We have observed that many people have had neurological symptoms longer than Covid-19 in the body itself. So understanding how the dynamics of the virus in the brain could eventually help prevent consequences or even help treat people who have caused neurological symptoms. about an infection of this kind,” Souza added.
The Unicamp study analyzed MRI scans of 81 patients with mild Covid-19 and found brain atrophy – Photo: Injab/EPTV
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