Health

COVID-19 may infect the respiratory centre of the brains, nervous system says CSIR researchers

A team of researchers from CSIR – Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata has explored the neuroinvasive potential of COVID-19 and suggested that the virus may infect the respiratory center of the brain, according to a statement.

Researchers have also suggested that attention should focus on the respiratory center of the central nervous system to learn about coronavirus mortality.

The article published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience and endorsed by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), implies that the coronavirus could enter the human brain through the nose and reach the olfactory bulb of the brain.

From there, the virus could infect the PreBotzinger Complex (PBC), the primary brain center that controls the generation of the respiratory rhythm. This explains that the collapse of the respiratory center in the brain may be responsible for the decomposition of patients with COVID-19.

The team of researchers comprised of Dr. Prem Tripathi, Dr. Upasana Ray, Dr. Amit Srivastava and Dr. Sonu Gandhi suggested that while the lung is one of the most infected organs, several other organs, including the brain , are also affected by COVID-19.

Cerebrospinal fluid from patients with COVID-19 and autopsy of the deceased’s brain should be evaluated to better understand the route of entry of SARS-CoV-2 and its spread to the respiratory center of the brain.

This is the first report highlighting that SARS-CoV-2 can target the brain stem PBC that controls respiration and causes respiratory collapse in COVID-19 patients, the statement added.

Scientists have suggested that the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with COVID-19 and autopsy of the deceased’s brain should be evaluated to better understand the route of entry of SARS-CoV-2 and its spread to the respiratory center of the brain.

The PreBotzinger complex functions as the primary respiratory oscillator and has been proposed as a breathing center. Disruption of PBC has previously been shown to cause fatality due to respiratory failure, suggesting its central role in generating respiratory rhythm.

“It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 could shut down the respiratory center and, in turn, breathe by infecting and destroying brain stem PBC,” he said, adding that this hypothesis should be validated for SARS-CoV-2.

Another recent study by a group of scientists from King’s College London, UK, highlights that loss of smell is one of the main symptoms of patients with COVID-19, suggesting the participation of the same route through the which coronavirus can enter the brain.

The study highlights that it is important not only to examine patients with COVID-19 for neurological symptoms, but also to segregate them further when the symptom appears.

The researchers have noted that while the brain is not currently considered the site of the primary or secondary reason for a COVID-19 patient’s death, attention should be focused on the respiratory center of the brain.

“Autopsy of the brain of COVID-19 patients could be evaluated to determine the route of entry and affected areas, including detailed evaluation of the respiratory center of the brain,” the statement added.

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