SARS-CoV-2 infection and viral fusogens cause neuronal and glial fusion that compromises neuronal activity.
© KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images
The virus behind COVID-19 can cause brain cells to fuse together — something not seen before and a possible explanation for the ‘brain fog’ that many people experienced.
Along with the usual symptoms of respiratory diseases — sore throats, sneezing and coughing — COVID-19 also produced neurological symptoms in some people, such as the loss of smell and the ability to think clearly.
Now, by experimenting on ‘minibrains’ created from stem cells, a team led by scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia has found that COVID-19 can cause neurons to fuse together. Furthermore, they showed that this cell fusion can adversely affect brain activity.
Viruses have been known to kill neurons or to cause inflammation, but brain cell fusion adds to the repertoire of effects that viruses can have on the brain, the researchers say.
- Science Advances 9, eadg2248 (2023). doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adg2248
|The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia
|Macquarie University, Australia
|University of Helsinki, Finland