IRP study identifies features of Long COVID neurological symptoms
Findings offer insight into biological mechanisms, pointing to possible treatments
Twelve people with persistent neurological symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection were intensely studied at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and were found to have differences in their immune cell profiles and autonomic dysfunction. These data inform future studies to help explain persistent neurological symptoms in Long COVID. The findings, published in Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, may lead to better diagnoses and new treatments.
People with post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), which includes Long COVID, have a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, headaches, sleep disturbances, and 'brain fog,' or cognitive impairment. Such symptoms can last for months or longer after an initial SARS-CoV-2 infection. Fatigue and 'brain fog' are among the most common and debilitating symptoms, and likely stem from nervous system dysfunction.
Researchers used an approach called deep phenotyping to closely examine the clinical and biological features of Long COVID in 12 people who had long-lasting, disabling neurological symptoms after COVID-19. Most participants had mild symptoms during their acute infection. At the NIH Clinical Center, participants underwent comprehensive testing, which included a clinical exam, questionnaires, advanced brain imaging, blood and cerebrospinal fluid tests, and autonomic function tests.
The results showed that people with Long COVID had lower levels of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells — immune cells involved in coordinating the immune system’s response to viruses — compared to healthy controls. Researchers also found increases in the numbers of B cells and other types of immune cells, suggesting that immune dysregulation may play a role in mediating Long COVID.
This page was last updated on Friday, May 5, 2023