Home Mind & Brain Covid Linked to Brain Synapse and Electrical Disruptions

Covid Linked to Brain Synapse and Electrical Disruptions

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In a new study, scientists have uncovered how the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for the Covid pandemic, affects the brain’s synaptic structures and electrical activity.

This new research sheds light on the neurological symptoms observed in Covid patients, including cognitive deficits and psychiatric disorders. The findings were published in the journal Nature Microbiology.

The study, conducted using cerebral organoids, human brain explants, and post-mortem samples from Covid patients, reveals that the virus induces abnormal changes in the synaptic components, leading to enlarged presynaptic structures. Specifically, the virus increases the expression of synaptic components like Bassoon, latrophilin-3 (LPHN3), and fibronectin leucine-rich transmembrane protein-3 (FLRT3). These findings indicate a disruption in synaptic homeostasis, which could contribute to the neurological effects observed in Covid patients.

A key discovery is the upregulation of LPHN3, a post-synaptic G-protein coupled receptor involved in excitatory synapse formation and maintenance. The study demonstrates that treatment with Stachel, a LPHN3-specific agonist, can partially restore synaptic structure and organoid electrical activity disrupted by the virus. This suggests that LPHN3 plays a critical role in the virus-induced synaptic dysfunction.

The study extends its analysis to the electrical activity of the brain, using a machine learning framework to assess the impact of SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The results show a distinct perturbation in the local field potential of the organoids exposed to the virus, correlating with the EEG abnormalities reported in Covid patients. This indicates that the virus not only affects synaptic structures but also has a broader impact on the neural circuitry.

In an intriguing aspect of the study, researchers observed that SARS-CoV-2 virions accumulate at synaptic sites containing LPHN3 and FLRT3. This suggests that the physical presence of the virus at these sites could contribute to synaptic dysfunctions, offering a new perspective on how viruses can directly interfere with neuronal communication.

The study provides critical insights into the molecular interactions between SARS-CoV-2 and the human brain, offering explanations for the diverse neurological symptoms in Covid patients. It highlights the need for further research into how viral infections can impact brain function and emphasises the importance of considering neurological effects in the treatment and management of Covid.

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