A new international study confirms what was already feared: SARS-Cov-2 is capable of infecting neurons. A phenomenon which could explain certain symptoms.
A possible explanation for neurological symptoms
Headaches, loss of smell, stroke … These neurological symptoms of Covid-19 are known, but the reason for their appearance is still poorly understood.
Researchers from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), the Sorbonne University in Paris, Yale University in the United States, the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, as well as of the CNRS, have proposed an explanation for these symptoms: the virus would infect the neurons of certain people.
The virus multiplies in neurons
To carry out their work, published on January 12 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine , the researchers studied on the one hand mice, on the other hand brain cells cultured in the laboratory and finally brain tissue from deceased SARS patients. -CoV-2.
In mice, regions of the brain infected with the virus underwent extensive remodeling in the cerebral vascular network. In brain cells grown in the lab, the researchers found that the virus entered and multiplied in neurons. Causes infected cells to undergo a major metabolic change, causing neighboring cells to die. Traces of RNA from the virus have also been found in the brains of patients who died from Covid.
The route of entry of the virus still unknown
The question of how the virus enters neurons remains open, however. According to the researchers, “Previous data has shown that in the rest of the body, the virus uses the ACE2 protein, which is present on the surface of cells.
This is particularly expressed in the lungs, which explains why the coronavirus attacks this organ more specifically. However, this entry route remained to be demonstrated in neurons. “
Further studies are therefore needed to identify the route taken by the virus to enter the brain.