Neurological Impacts of SARS-CoV-2
- Andrea Bertke
Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases, Population Health Sciences, Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
- James Weger-Lucarelli
Research Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine; Fralin Life Sciences Institute
- Jonathan Auguste
Assistant Professor, Arbovirology/Molecular Biology, Entomology, College of Science
Severe headaches and cognitive impairment, such as memory lapses or sleep disorders, are commonly reported among individuals with mild to moderate symptomatic infections resulting from SARS-CoV-2.
In those with severe illness, other neurologic manifestations have been reported, including acute cerebrovascular events, loss of sensation or tingling in extremities, impaired consciousness, and sudden stroke. Thus, COVID-19 has a substantial impact on the peripheral and central nervous system. One unusual symptom reported by patients testing positive for SARS-Co-V-2 is a loss of the sense of smell, or anosmia. Anosmia has been suggested as a first diagnostic indicator for acquisition of the virus.
In this project, the researchers will assess the spread pathway of SARS-CoV-2 infection through the neurons of the olfactory system and into the brain. A better understanding of the way the infection spreads, as well as the neurological damage done by the virus, may highlight treatment options and recovery prospects of COVID-related neurological disorders, as well as inform implications for using the unusual symptom of anosmia as a diagnostic indicator.
These studies address clinical management of the disease by determining the neurological impacts of the virus, the impact of the pandemic and its aftermath on the well-being of people, and may contribute to the development of approaches to quantify and/or mitigate the unanticipated consequences of COVID-19 on society. Results will also serve as preliminary data for submission of collaborative proposals to external funding opportunities to further investigate neurological impacts of SARS-CoV-2 and to develop ways to manage or mitigate these impacts.