Summary:- In a new study, researchers found that the spike protein, often depicted as the red arms of the virus, can cross the blood-brain barrier in mice. The spike proteins alone can cause brain fog.
And researchers are discovering why. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, like many viruses before it, is bad news for the brain. during a study published Dec.16 in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that the spike protein, often depicted because the red arms of the virus, can cross the barrier in mice.
This strongly suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the explanation for COVID-19, can enter the brain.
The spike protein, often called the S1 protein, dictates which cells the virus can enter. Usually, the virus does an equivalent thing as its binding protein, said corresponding author William A. Banks, a professor of drugs at the University of Washington School of drugs and a Puget Sound Veterans Affairs Healthcare System physician and researcher. Banks said binding proteins like S1 usually by themselves cause damage as they detach from the virus and cause inflammation.
“The S1 protein likely causes the brain to release cytokines and inflammatory products,” he said.
In science circles, the extreme inflammation caused by the COVID-19 infection is named a cytokine storm. The system , upon seeing the virus and its proteins, overreacts in its plan to kill the invading virus. The infected person is left with brain fog, fatigue and other cognitive issues.
Banks and his team saw this reaction with the HIV virus and wanted to ascertain if an equivalent was happening with SARS CoV-2.
Banks said the S1 protein in SARS-CoV2 and therefore the gp 120 protein in HIV-1 function similarly. they’re glycoproteins — proteins that have tons of sugars on them, hallmarks of proteins that bind to other receptors. Both these proteins function because the arms and hand for his or her viruses by grabbing onto other receptors. Both cross the barrier and S1, like gp120, is probably going toxic to brain tissues.
“It was like reminder ,” said Banks, who has done extensive work on HIV-1, gp120, and therefore the barrier .
The Banks’ lab studies the barrier in Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, and HIV. But they put their work on hold and every one 15 people within the lab started their experiments on the S1 protein in April. They enlisted long-time collaborator Jacob Raber, a professor within the departments of Behavioral Neuroscience, Neurology, and Radiation Medicine, and his teams at Oregon Health & Science University.
The study could explain many of the complications from COVID-19.
“We know that once you have the COVID infection you’ve got trouble breathing and that is because there’s infection in your lung, but a further explanation is that the virus enters the respiratory centers of the brain and causes problems there also ,” said Banks.
Raber said within the ir experiments transport of S1 was faster in the neural structure and kidney of males than females. This observation might relate to the increased susceptibility of men to more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
As for people taking the virus lightly, Banks features a message:
“You don’t want to mess with this virus,” he said. “Many of the consequences that the COVID virus has might be accentuated or perpetuated or maybe caused by virus getting into the brain and people effects could last for a really while .”
This study was partially supported by a National Institute on Aging-funded COVID-19 supplement to a shared RF1 grant of Banks and Raber.