Published: 16 Oct 2020, 01:06 pm
Covid-19 can infect brain tissue and affect the structure of the cortex, a region of the brain responsible for functions such as memory, consciousness, and language, a Brazilian study released Thursday says.
Astrocytes, the most abundant cells in the central nervous system, which perform functions such as providing support and nutrients to neurons and controlling the concentration of neurotransmitters and other substances, such as potassium, may be affected by the coronavirus, reports UNB.
"We demonstrated for the first time that the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects and replicates in astrocytes and this can decrease the viability of neurons," said Daniel Martins de Souza, a professor at the Institute of Biology at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), reports Xinhua.
"The infection of this cell type was confirmed through experiments done with brain tissue from 26 patients who died from Covid-19," the study said.
Scientists used a technique known as immunohistochemistry, which involves using antibodies to identify such antigens in a sample of tissue, Martins de Souza said.
In 26 of the samples tested, the existence of the virus was confirmed, and in five of them, certain alterations were found which indicated possible damage to the central nervous system.
Eighty-one other patients with mild Covid-19 symptoms were also studied.
The findings showed that 60 days after contracting the disease, a third of them displayed neurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as memory failure, exhaustion, headache, anxiety, and others.
Scientists from Unicamp and the University of Sao Paulo (USP) partnered with scientists from the National Biosciences Laboratory, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and the D'Or Institute to conduct the research.
In December last year, coronavirus cases were first identified in China's Wuhan and spread rapidly across the globe within weeks. The WHO proclaimed it a pandemic in March.
So far, with 1,097,228 deaths, there have been 38,833,032 globally confirmed cases.
Bangladesh reported its first cases on March 8 and the first death on March 18. The health authorities on Thursday announced 1,600 new cases, taking the caseload to 3,84,559.
Meanwhile, the death toll has climbed to 5,608.