Scientists at New York University Grossman School of Medicine have found high levels of proteins in the blood of COVID-19 infected that are typically elevated in neurological damage.
According to StudyFinds, the study included 251 people hospitalized with COVID-19 during the first few months of the pandemic in 2020. The average age of the participants was 71, but all were in good health and did not suffer from dementia or cognitive decline.
Researchers divided participants into two groups: those with and without neurological symptoms. Their scores were compared to control groups, which included 54 healthy people, 54 people with mild cognitive decline and 53 with Alzheimer's disease.
The scientists said the levels of three blood markers - ubiquitin carboxyconjugated hydrolase L1 (UCHL1), total tau protein and phosphorylated tau-181 (ptau181) - can measure the death and destruction of brain neurons. Other markers are levels of neurofilament light chain (brain axonal damage), levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein GFAP (glial cell damage) and beta-amyloids.
As it turned out, people with COVID-19 had markedly higher markers of brain damage than patients with Alzheimer's disease. The main sign of neurological damage was a state of toxico-metabolic encephalopathy, with symptoms ranging from confusion to coma due to toxins that are a byproduct of the immune system response.
Neurofilament light chain markers were 179% higher among patients with coronavirus infection in the short term than in people with Alzheimer's disease. GFAP levels were also 65% higher among patients with COVID-19 compared with patients with dementia.
According to the scientists, all of these data indicate that people with brain damage due to the coronavirus have an increased risk of dementia.
Note that another study showed that the coronavirus infection COVID-19 can cause even more damage to the human brain than Alzheimer's disease.