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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 07, 2023  2 months, 3 weeks, 4 days, 4 hours, 45 minutes ago

BREAKING COVID-19 News! Study Alarmingly Finds That Recovered Individuals Who Only Had Mild COVID-19 Exhibit Glymphatic System Dysfunction!

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BREAKING COVID-19 News! Study Alarmingly Finds That Recovered Individuals Who Only Had Mild COVID-19 Exhibit Glymphatic System Dysfunction!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 07, 2023  2 months, 3 weeks, 4 days, 4 hours, 45 minutes ago
COVID-19 News: The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has left a trail of lingering health concerns, even among those who experienced only mild symptoms during the initial infection. Recent research covered in this COVID-19 News report, conducted by a collaborative team from The First Affiliated Hospital, Nanchang University, Nanchang, China, the Jiangxi Province Medical Imaging Research Institute, Jena University Hospital in Germany, and the Center for Intervention and Research on Adaptive and Maladaptive Brain Circuits (C-I-R-C) in Germany has unearthed a startling revelation. Recovered individuals with a history of mild COVID-19 may be grappling with a dysfunction in their glymphatic system, leading to potential cognitive abnormalities!

                                                                            Graphical Abstract

Understanding the Sequelae of COVID-19
While over 90% of COVID-19 patients survive the infection, a spectrum of sequelae manifests post-recovery, even in those who experienced mild symptoms. Neurological symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and cognitive decline have been reported within a year of follow-up. Conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) often fails to elucidate these nonspecific symptoms, and functional MRI studies have been limited in explaining issues like depression and fatigue in COVID-19 patients.
Neuroinvasive Nature of COVID-19
COVID-19's neuroinvasive potential through respiratory pathways and direct coronavirus neuroinvasion via olfactory receptors has been well-documented. Changes in the limbic system, including reduced grey matter thickness, have been observed, hinting at a degenerative spread of the disease through olfactory pathways. However, the connection between COVID-19 infection and glymphatic function, a critical waste-clearing system in the brain, remains elusive.
Glymphatic System and its Evaluation
The glymphatic system, responsible for clearing metabolic waste from the brain, has been previously assessed using various techniques, including dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. However, the invasiveness of these methods has limited their widespread application. The current study employs diffusion-weighted MRI, specifically the DTI-ALPS index, as a noninvasive method to quantify glymphatic function.
Key Findings of the Study
The study, involving 61 recovered patients with mild COVID-19, reveals several critical findings. The bilateral glymphatic function in recovered patients decreased asymmetrically, with more pronounced dysfunction in older individuals. Notably, recovered patients with right-sided glymph atic dysfunction exhibited a higher likelihood of cognitive decline compared to those with left-sided dysfunction.
DTI-ALPS Index and Cognitive Abnormalities:
The DTI-ALPS index, a measure of glymphatic function, was significantly lower in recovered COVID-19 patients compared to healthy controls. Moreover, both left and right DTI-ALPS indices negatively correlated with age, emphasizing the impact of age on glymphatic function. Hierarchical cluster analysis identified two subgroups, with cognitive abnormalities associated with a decline in the right DTI-ALPS index.
Implications and Future Directions
This groundbreaking study sheds light on the link between COVID-19 and glymphatic dysfunction, providing potential insights into the long-term consequences of the infection. The findings underscore the importance of considering COVID-19's impact on cognitive health, particularly in the older population. As over 90% of the general population has been exposed to COVID-19, future studies must delve deeper into the cognitive disorders that may emerge in the aftermath of the pandemic.
In conclusion, this study unravels a previously unexplored facet of COVID-19's impact on the brain – glymphatic dysfunction. The findings urge the medical community to reevaluate the neurological sequelae of COVID-19, with a specific focus on cognitive decline. As we continue to navigate the post-pandemic era, understanding the intricate relationship between COVID-19 and brain health becomes imperative for comprehensive patient care. Further research is warranted to explore the nuances of glymphatic dysfunction and its role in cognitive impairment, laying the foundation for targeted interventions and improved post-COVID-19 healthcare strategies.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: iScience.
More About The Glymphatic System
The glymphatic system, also known as the glymphatic clearance pathway or paravascular system, serves as a waste clearance mechanism within the central nervous system (CNS) of vertebrates. Coined by neuroscientist Dr Maiken Nedergaard, this system relies on the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) into the paravascular space around cerebral arteries, merging with interstitial fluid (ISF) and parenchymal solutes. The glymphatic pathway includes a para-arterial influx route for CSF to enter the brain parenchyma, coupled with a clearance mechanism for removing ISF and extracellular solutes from the brain and spinal cord.
This intricate process involves arterial pulsation and is regulated during sleep through the expansion and contraction of brain extracellular space. Astrocytic aquaporin 4 (AQP4) water channels facilitate the convective bulk flow of ISF, enabling the clearance of soluble proteins, waste products, and excess extracellular fluid.
Research conducted by the University of Rochester in 2012 visualized the glymphatic system's function using in-vivo two-photon imaging. The paravascular spaces, filled with CSF, act as channels between blood vessels and leptomeningeal sheathes, facilitating rapid CSF movement. Astrocytes, particularly those expressing AQP4, play a crucial role in this process.
The glymphatic system's significance extends to waste clearance during sleep, as demonstrated by increased efficiency during slow-wave sleep. Additionally, it aids in lipid transport through paravascular pathways, activating glial calcium signaling.

In a clinical context, the glymphatic system's dysfunction may contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's.
Studies on genetically modified mice lacking AQP4 indicate a reduced clearance of amyloid-beta, a protein implicated in Alzheimer's disease.
Impairments in the glymphatic system are also observed after acute brain injuries like ischemic stroke or subarachnoid hemorrhage. The system's restoration is associated with improved outcomes, emphasizing its role in brain health.
Historically, Emanuel Swedenborg's identification of cerebrospinal fluid, described as "spirituous lymph," laid the foundation for understanding the glymphatic system. The recent discovery of the meningeal lymphatic system further expands our knowledge, connecting glymphatic waste clearance with deep cervical lymph nodes.
The glymphatic system represents a sophisticated waste clearance network vital for maintaining CNS health, with implications for understanding and treating various neurological conditions.
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