Corona research: New study shows how SARS-CoV-2 gets into the brain


Corona disease not only affects the lungs, the central nervous system can also be affected. But how does Sars-CoV-2 get into the brain?

  • More than a third of those infected with Corona * complain of neurological symptoms.
  • Researchers have now figured out how Sars-CoV-2 * possibly ins brain got.
  • Virus particles were detected by a team from Charité in the Olfactory mucosa proven.

Frankfurt / Berlin – More and more people are infected with the Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2. Since the virus has only been rampant for about a year, the pathogen and the course of the disease as well as the long-term health consequences of the corona * have not yet been fully researched. However, it has already become clear that this too central nervous system is affected.

Point to that too Symptoms such as headache, loss of smell and taste that occur in more than a third of those infected. Occasional strokes even occur. As the Coronavirus managed to get into the brain and what it attacks there was previously unclear. A German research team from neuropathology, pathology, forensic medicine, virology and clinical care has now found that it is likely to enter the olfactory mucosa directly from the nose via the nerve cells of the olfactory mucosa brain got.

Symptoms of COVID-19
Typical Cough, fever, runny nose, odor and taste disorders
Less common Shortness of breath, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache and body aches, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, rash, conjunctivitis, swollen lymph nodes, drowsiness, impaired consciousness

Coronavirus: How Sars-CoV-2 gets into the brain – New findings from study

So the experts around Frank Heppner from the Berlin Charité Detect intact viruses in the so-called olfactory epithelium, as the “Ärzteblatt” writes. To this end, the experts analyzed 33 tissue samples from people who were associated with a Covid-19 disease passed away, their results have now been published in “Nature Neuroscience”.

Accordingly, samples were taken from the olfactory mucosa and the four different ones Regions of the brain analyzed. The researchers looked there for genetic material from Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 as well as the so-called spike protein that the virus uses to attack other cells. The researchers finally found the highest viral load in the olfactory mucosa. “There the research team was able to get intact for the first time with the help of special stains and electron microscopic images Coronaviruspartikel make visible ”, it says in a communication from the Charité.

Sars-CoV-2 penetrates the brain through the nose: spread from nerve cell to nerve cell

The virus particles of Sars-CoV-2 were found inside, according to the experts Neurons and on the extensions of the cover cells located there. The virus was also found in other structures that connect the eyes, nose and mouth to the brain stem.

Based on the data and findings, it is therefore assumed “that SARS-CoV-2 acts on the olfactory mucosa Entry gate into the brain can use ”, says Prof. Heppner, director of the Institute for Neuropathology at the Charité. “From the olfactory mucosa, the virus apparently uses neuroanatomical connections such as the olfactory nerve to reach the brain.”

It is important to mention, however, that the study only tissue samples from patients with severe Covid-19 course were used. It cannot be transferred to medium or light courses. How exactly the virus spreads from the nerve cells has not yet been fully clarified. The research team assumes that it migrates “from nerve cell to nerve cell” to do this brain to reach. However, transport via the blood vessel system is also possible, as data from the study show. By the way, herpes simplex viruses or the rabies virus that cause rabies also spread in a similar manner.

Coronavirus: Sars-CoV-2 found in brain regions that control vital functions

When examining how the immune system affects the Befall with Sars-CoV-2 the researchers also found in the olfactory mucosa and in the brain activated immune cells. In some cases, tissue damage from strokes was also noted.

The viruses were also found in areas of the brain that control vital functions such as breathing. “It cannot be ruled out that with severe COVID-19 courses the virus infestation in these areas of the brain makes breathing more difficult – in addition to the impairment of respiratory function due to the virus infestation of the lungs. The same can apply to the heart and circulation, ”explains Prof. Heppner. (svw / red) * is part of the nationwide Ippen digital editorial network.

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