: Neurological manifestations are common in COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Despite reports of SARS-CoV-2 detection in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of COVID-19 patients, it is still unclear whether the virus can infect the central nervous system, and which neuropathological alterations can be ascribed to viral tropism, rather than immune-mediated mechanisms. Here, we assess neuropathological alterations in 24 COVID-19 patients and 18 matched controls who died due to pneumonia/respiratory failure. Aside from a wide spectrum of neuropathological alterations, SARS-CoV-2-immunoreactive neurons were detected in the dorsal medulla and in the substantia nigra of five COVID-19 subjects. Viral RNA was also detected by real-time RT-PCR. Quantification of reactive microglia revealed an anatomically segregated pattern of inflammation within affected brainstem regions, and was higher when compared to controls. While the results of this study support the neuroinvasive potential of SARS-CoV-2 and characterize the role of brainstem inflammation in COVID-19, its potential implications for neurodegeneration, especially in Parkinson's disease, require further investigations.

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins and genomic sequences in human brainstem nuclei

Emmi, Aron;Rizzo, Stefania;Barzon, Luisa;Sandre, Michele;Carturan, Elisa;Sinigaglia, Alessandro;Riccetti, Silvia;Della Barbera, Mila;Boscolo-Berto, Rafael;Macchi, Veronica;Antonini, Angelo;De Gaspari, Monica;Basso, Cristina;De Caro, Raffaele;Porzionato, Andrea
2023

Abstract

: Neurological manifestations are common in COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Despite reports of SARS-CoV-2 detection in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of COVID-19 patients, it is still unclear whether the virus can infect the central nervous system, and which neuropathological alterations can be ascribed to viral tropism, rather than immune-mediated mechanisms. Here, we assess neuropathological alterations in 24 COVID-19 patients and 18 matched controls who died due to pneumonia/respiratory failure. Aside from a wide spectrum of neuropathological alterations, SARS-CoV-2-immunoreactive neurons were detected in the dorsal medulla and in the substantia nigra of five COVID-19 subjects. Viral RNA was also detected by real-time RT-PCR. Quantification of reactive microglia revealed an anatomically segregated pattern of inflammation within affected brainstem regions, and was higher when compared to controls. While the results of this study support the neuroinvasive potential of SARS-CoV-2 and characterize the role of brainstem inflammation in COVID-19, its potential implications for neurodegeneration, especially in Parkinson's disease, require further investigations.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3470225
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