Using a special type of MRI, researchers detected brain changes in patients up to six months after they recovered from COVID-19, according to a study that will be presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Medical Society of North America (RSNA), Neuroscience News reports.
Long term effects
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five adults will develop long-term effects from COVID-19. Neurological symptoms associated with long-term COVID-19 include difficulty thinking or concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, dizziness, tingling sensations, changes in the sense of smell or taste, and depression or anxiety. But studies have found that COVID-19 may also be associated with changes in the heart, lungs, or other organs, even in asymptomatic patients.
As more people become infected and recover from SARS-CoV-2 infection, research is emerging, focusing on the lasting consequences of COVID-19.
In this study, researchers used magnetic susceptibility imaging to analyze the effects of COVID-19 on the brain. Magnetic susceptibility refers to how magnetic certain elements, such as blood, iron, and calcium, are in an applied magnetic field. This ability helps detect and monitor a range of neurological conditions including microbleeding, vascular abnormalities, brain tumors and stroke.
“Group-level studies have not previously focused on COVID-19 changes in magnetic sensitivity of the brain despite numerous case reports suggesting such abnormalities,” said Dr Sapna S Mishra, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and co-author of the study. The study “highlights this new aspect of the neurological effects of COVID-19 and reveals significant abnormalities in COVID survivors.”
The most common symptoms
The researchers analyzed highly sensitive MRI data from 46 patients who had recovered from COVID-19 and 30 healthy participants as a control group. The imaging took place within six months of recovery. Among the patients, who have had Covid for a long time, the most common symptoms were fatigue, difficulty sleeping, decreased attention and memory problems.
Dr Mishra said: “Changes in the sensitivity values of brain regions may be indicative of local structural changes. The sensitivities could reflect the presence of abnormal amounts of paramagnetic compounds, while the decreased sensitivity could be due to changes such as calcification or a lack of paramagnetic molecules that contain paramagnetic compounds.” on iron”.
higher sensitivity values
MRI results showed that patients who recovered from COVID-19 had significantly higher sensitivity values in the frontal lobe and brainstem than healthy controls. Clusters obtained in the frontal lobe mainly show gray matter differences.
Dr. Mishra added that “areas of the brain, [التي تعرضت لتغيرات] They are associated with fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, headaches, and cognitive problems.”
Parts of the left inferior orbitofrontal gyrus are associated with language comprehension and production and the right inferior frontal gyrus, which controls various cognitive functions including attention, motor inhibition and imagery, as well as social cognitive processes.
Endocrine and biological clock
The researchers also discovered a significant difference in the right diencephalon region of the brainstem, which is associated with several critical bodily functions, including coordinating with the endocrine system to secrete hormones, transmitting sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex, and regulating circadian rhythms.
The results “indicate serious, long-term complications that can be caused by the coronavirus, even after months of recovery from infection,” Dr. Mishra explained, explaining that “the current results are from a small time window. But longitudinal time points across two years are likely to show whether there is any permanent change.” The researchers are currently conducting a longitudinal study in the same patient group to determine whether these brain abnormalities persist over a longer period of time.