Study Identifies How COVID-19 Linked To Alzheimer's Disease-
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A new study has identified mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer's disease-like dementia. The findings, indicate an overlap between COVID-19 and brain changes common in Alzheimer's, and may help inform risk management and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.

In the study, the researchers harnessed artificial intelligence using existing datasets of patients with Alzheimer's and COVID-19. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and those associated with several neurological diseases where closer proximity suggests related or shared disease pathways. The researchers also analyzed the genetic factors that enabled SARS-COV-2 to infect brain tissues and cells.

While researchers found little evidence that the virus targets the brain directly, they discovered close network relationships between the virus and genes/proteins associated with several neurological diseases, pointing to pathways by which COVID-19 could lead to AD-like dementia. To explore this further, they investigated potential associations between COVID-19 and neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which are both hallmarks of Alzheimer's.

"We discovered that SARS-CoV-2 infection significantly altered Alzheimer's markers implicated in brain inflammation and that certain viral entry factors are highly expressed in cells in the blood-brain barrier," explained the researcher. "These findings indicate that the virus may impact several genes or pathways involved in neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which could lead to Alzheimer's disease-like cognitive impairment."

The researchers also found that individuals with the allele APOE E4/E4, the greatest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's, had decreased expression of antiviral defense genes, which could make these patients more susceptible to COVID-19. "Ultimately, we hope to have paved the way for research that leads to testable and measurable biomarkers that can identify patients at the highest risk for neurological complications with COVID-19," said the researcher.

Source:
https://alzres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13195-021-00850-3
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