Covid-19: the virus does affect the brain even in a mild form of the disease

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Covid-19 can affect long-term lung function in infected patients, but it can also have effects on the brain. A new study confirms that the virus can reach the brain, even in people who have developed a mild form of the disease.

We know that SARS-CoV-2 can damage the nervous system, an American study also revealed to what extent Covid-19 could invade the brain and have serious consequences.

We now know more about the impact of this respiratory disease on brain function, thanks to new work published in the scientific journal Nature. The researchers were interested in changes in brain structure in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, whether they developed a severe or mild form of the disease.

To do this, the authors analyzed data from 785 people between the ages of 51 and 81, which were collected during a British cohort study, UK Biobank. All participants underwent two imaging tests during this large study, and 401 people tested positive for Covid-19 between the two imaging tests.

Gwenaëlle Douaud, from the Department of Neurosciences at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom), and her team then observed various effects of the virus on the brains of infected patients in the images:

Greater reduction in the thickness of gray matter in the orbitofrontal cortex (an area of the brain that plays an important role in cognitive functions, including decision-making)

Changes in areas connected to the primary olfactory cortex (which, as the name suggests, is involved in processing olfactory messages) Further reduction in total brain size

Covid-19: the virus can damage the brain, even in the case of a mild form of the disease

"The infected participants also showed a greater average cognitive deterioration between the two tests," explain the researchers, who specify that all these described effects were also observed in positive patients who had not been hospitalized.

These brain changes, visible on medical imaging, "may be the in vivo signs of degenerative disease spread through olfactory pathways, neuroinflammatory events, or loss of sensory input due to anosmia," the researchers conclude. specialists.

Further research will reveal whether these effects, seen in the brain, resolve or persist in the long term.

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