There is growing evidence that people with COVID-19 suffer from cognitive effects such as brain fog and fatigue.
Researchers are discovering why. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, like many viruses before it, has a negative effect on the brain.
In a study published Dec. 16 in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that a particular protein, often referred to as the “red hands” of the virus, can cross the blood-brain barrier.
The protein in question, also called the S1 protein, dictates which cells the virus can enter. The virus usually does the same thing as protein, said co-author William Banks.
He is a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, a physician and a veteran health care researcher. Banks have also said that binding proteins like S1 usually cause damage because they are released from the virus and are the source of inflammation.
“S1 protein probably causes the brain to secrete cytokines and causes inflammation,” he said.
In scientific circles, intense inflammation caused by Covid-19 infection is called a cytokine storm. When the immune system senses the virus and its proteins, it reacts very intensely in an attempt to eliminate it.
An infected person suffers from brain fog, fatigue and other cognitive problems.
The bank’s lab is working to study the blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes and HIV.
But in April, he and his team stopped working on starting experiments on the S1 protein.
The study may explain many of the complications of Covid-19.
“We know that when you have a coronavirus infection the result is breathing problems.
This is because there is an infection in the lungs, but there is an additional explanation that the virus enters the respiratory centers of the brain and also causes problems there, ”Banks said.
As for people who underestimate the virus, Banks has a message:
“You don’t want to mess with this virus!” He said.
“Many of the effects of the Covid-19 virus can be exacerbated or prolonged or even caused by a virus entering the brain. These effects can last for a very long time.”