According to the researchers, antibodies produced in response to Covid-19 mistakenly target the cells that make up the blood-brain barrier.
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It damages the blood vessels of the brain. The immune response to Covid-19 could be responsible for the symptoms of “long Covid”, according to a study based on a low number of cases and published on Tuesday July 5 by American researchers in the journal Brain (in English).
The brains of nine people who died soon after contracting Covid-19 were studied for this article. The team of researchers from the American Institutes of Health (NIH) did not detect traces of the virus in the brain but, conversely, antibodies, causing damage to the walls of blood vessels which cause especially inflammation.
This discovery could explain some of the lasting effects of Covid-19, such as migraines, chronic fatigue, loss of taste and smell, sleep problems or even the feeling of “brain fog”, a state of intellectual fatigue. . It could also open up avenues for future treatments.
The brains of the nine patients, aged 24 to 73, were compared with ten others from a control group. The researchers observed neuronal inflammation and the immune response. According to them, antibodies produced in response to Covid-19 mistakenly targeted the cells that make up the blood-brain barrier, a structure that surrounds blood vessels in the brain and tries to block foreign substances.
The damage caused can in turn lead to protein leaks, bleeding and blood clots, which increases the risk of stroke. A leak can also trigger an immune response to repair damaged cells, which causes inflammation.