A brand new Cleveland Clinic-led examine has recognized mechanisms by which COVID-19 can result in Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. The findings, revealed in Alzheimer’s Analysis & Remedy, point out an overlap between COVID-19 and mind adjustments widespread in Alzheimer’s, and should assist inform danger administration and therapeutic methods for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.
Stories of neurological issues in COVID-19 sufferers and “long-hauler” sufferers whose signs persist after the an infection clears have gotten extra widespread, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) could have lasting results on mind operate. Nonetheless, it isn’t but nicely understood how the virus results in neurological points.
“Whereas some research recommend that SARS-CoV-2 infects mind cells straight, others discovered no proof of the virus within the mind,” says Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., assistant employees in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Drugs Institute and lead creator on the examine. “Figuring out how COVID-19 and neurological issues are linked might be crucial for creating efficient preventive and therapeutic methods to handle the surge in neurocognitive impairments that we count on to see within the close to future.”
Within the examine, the researchers harnessed synthetic intelligence utilizing present datasets of sufferers with Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and people related to a number of neurological ailments the place nearer proximity suggests associated or shared illness pathways. The researchers additionally analyzed the genetic components that enabled SARS-COV-2 to contaminate mind tissues and cells.
Whereas researchers discovered little proof that the virus targets the mind straight, they found shut community relationships between the virus and genes/proteins related to a number of neurological ailments, most notably Alzheimer’s, pointing to pathways by which COVID-19 might result in AD-like dementia. To discover this additional, they investigated potential associations between COVID-19 and neuroinflammation and mind microvascular harm, that are each hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.
“We found that SARS-CoV-2 an infection considerably altered Alzheimer’s markers implicated in mind irritation and that sure viral entry components are extremely expressed in cells within the blood-brain barrier,” defined Dr. Cheng. “These findings point out that the virus could affect a number of genes or pathways concerned in neuroinflammation and mind microvascular harm, which might result in Alzehimer’s disease-like cognitive impairment.”
The researchers additionally discovered that people with the allele APOE E4/E4, the best genetic danger issue for Alzheimer’s, had decreased expression of antiviral protection genes, which might make these sufferers extra vulnerable to COVID-19.
“In the end, we hope to have paved the way in which for analysis that results in testable and measurable biomarkers that may establish sufferers on the highest danger for neurological issues with COVID-19,” mentioned Dr. Cheng.
Dr. Cheng and his staff are actually working to establish actionable biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for COVID-19-associated neurological points in COVID long-haulers utilizing cutting-edge community drugs and synthetic intelligence applied sciences.
Yadi Zhou, Ph.D.; Jielin Xu, Ph.D., and Yuan Hou, Ph.D., are co-first authors on the examine. The examine was supported by the Nationwide Institute on Getting old, the Nationwide Coronary heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the Nationwide Institute of Neurological Issues and Stroke, and Cleveland Clinic’s VeloSano Pilot Program.