How someone becomes seriously ill with Covid-19 or not can apparently influence aging processes in the brain. That shows a new study by American scientists.
A corona infection can vary in intensity and severity – this is shown by the findings of the last few months and years. Depending on the physical condition, age and immune reaction, the virus triggers different symptoms, which can be mild to severe.
Long-term consequences are also possible as a result of an infection with Covid-19, keyword post- or long-Covid. Studies indicate possible long-term damage to organs such as the lungs or heart.
“In view of the severity with which the organs are sometimes attacked, it can be assumed that long-term damage to these organs can also occur,” explained Stefan Schreiber, Director of the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) and Director of the Department of Internal Medicine Medicine at the University Hospital in Kiel, some time ago to FOCUS online.
Even then, there was a suspicion that Covid-19 can also affect the aging processes of the organs – so that, for example, a 30-year-old convalescent suddenly has the function and performance of the heart or lungs of a 40-year-old or a 50-year-old have, according to the writer.
A new study by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston shows that it is not just the heart and lungs that are at risk. The researchers come to the conclusion that a severe course can also accelerate aging processes in the brain. The connection has long been studied against the background that many people continue to suffer from cognitive disorders long after being infected with Covid-19.
As part of the research, the scientists analyzed the brains of over 50 deceased people. Using RNA sequencing, they examined the functioning of the brain cells in the frontal lobe. Most cognitive processes take place in this region of the brain. The group consisted of the following:
The result: genes involved in inflammatory and stress reactions were increasingly active in people who contracted Covid-19. In addition, genes that are required for cognitive performance and the formation of new connections between brain cells were only less active.
As the scientists write, genes related to the aging process of the brain were active in the cells. To test the hypothesis of accelerated brain aging, the researchers compared the results of the Covid 19 patients with two other groups of people:
The researchers suspect that the strong inflammatory processes in the brain of the deceased are the cause of premature aging. Certain levels – interferons and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) – were significantly elevated in some individuals before death.
However, they also emphasize that the results do not prove that Covid-19 itself leads to brain aging. It is believed that once patients recover, their brains also return to normal. However, this cannot be examined, as this would require a brain biopsy.