Nav: Home

Clear signs of brain injury with severe COVID-19

June 18, 2020

Certain patients who receive hospital care for coronavirus infection (COVID-19) exhibit clinical and neurochemical signs of brain injury, a University of Gothenburg study shows. In even moderate COVID-19 cases, finding and measuring a blood-based biomarker for brain damage proved to be possible.

Some people infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 get only mild, cold-like symptoms, while others become severely ill and require hospital treatment. Among the latter, it has become clear that the patients sometimes show obvious signs of the brain not functioning as it should. These cases are not common, but do occur.

In a project at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, blood samples were taken from 47 patients with mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 in the course of their hospital stay. These samples were analyzed by means of highly sensitive biomarkers for brain injury. The results were compared with those from a healthy control group comprising 33 people matched by age and sex.

Now that the research is being presented in the journal Neurology, it is evident that an increase in one of the biomarkers took place even with moderate COVID-19 -- that is, in patients admitted to hospital but not in need of ventilator support. This marker, known as GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein), is normally present in astrocytes, a star-shaped neuron-supportive cell type in the brain, but leaks out in the event of astrocytic injury or overactivation.

The second biomarker investigated was NfL (neurofilament light chain protein), which is normally to be found inside the brain's neuronal outgrowths, which it serves to stabilize, but which leaks out into the blood if they are damaged. Elevated plasma NfL concentrations were found in most of the patients who required ventilator treatment, and there was a marked correlation between how much they rose and the severity of the disease.

"The increase in NfL levels, in particular, over time is greater than we've seen previously in studies connected with intensive care, and this suggests that COVID-19 can in fact directly bring about a brain injury. Whether it's the virus or the immune system that's causing this is unclear at present, and more research is needed," says Henrik Zetterberg, Professor of Neurochemistry, whose research team at Sahlgrenska Academy performed the measurements.

Magnus Gisslén, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sahlgrenska Academy and chief physician at the Department of Infectious Diseases, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, leads the Academy's clinical research on COVID-19.

In his view, blood tests for biomarkers associated with brain injury could be used for monitoring patients with moderate to severe COVID-19, to reduce the risk of brain injury.

"It would be highly interesting to see whether the NfL increase can be slowed down with new therapies, such as the new dexamethasone treatment that's now been proposed," Gisslén says.
-end-
Title: Neurochemical evidence of astrocytic and neuronal injury commonly found in COVID-19; https://n.neurology.org/content/early/2020/06/16/WNL.0000000000010111.abstract

Contacts:


Henrik Zetterberg, +46 768 672 647, henrik.zetterberg@gu.se

Magnus Gisslén, +46 706 412 260, magnus.gisslen@infect.gu.se

University of Gothenburg

Related Brain Injury Articles:

Using machine learning to predict pediatric brain injury
When newborn babies or children with heart or lung distress are struggling to survive, doctors often turn to a form of life support that uses artificial lungs.
A memory game could help us understand brain injury
A Boston University team created a memory game for mice in order to examine the function of two different brain areas that process information about the sensation of touch and the memory of previous events.
Clear signs of brain injury with severe COVID-19
Certain patients who receive hospital care for coronavirus infection (COVID-19) exhibit clinical and neurochemical signs of brain injury, a University of Gothenburg study shows.
Reducing dangerous swelling in traumatic brain injury
After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the most harmful damage is caused by secondary swelling of the brain compressed inside the skull.
Can brain injury from boxing, MMA be measured?
For boxers and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, is there a safe level of exposure to head trauma?
Study: Brain injury common in domestic violence
Domestic violence survivors commonly suffer repeated blows to the head and strangulation, trauma that has lasting effects that should be widely recognized by advocates, health care providers, law enforcement and others who are in a position to help, according to the authors of a new study.
Which car crashes cause traumatic brain injury?
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the most common causes of TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths.
Landmark study reveals no benefit to costly and risky brain cooling after brain injury
A landmark study, led by Monash University researchers, has definitively found that the practice of cooling the body and brain in patients who have recently received a severe traumatic brain injury, has no impact on the patient's long-term outcome.
Every cell has a story to tell in brain injury
Traumatic head injury can have widespread effects in the brain, but now scientists can look in real time at how head injury affects thousands of individual cells and genes simultaneously in mice.
Traumatic brain injury recovery via petri dish
Researchers in the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center have succeeded in reproducing the effects of traumatic brain injury and stimulating recovery in neuron cells grown in a petri dish.
More Brain Injury News and Brain Injury Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.