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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Sep 18, 2023  2 weeks, 13 hours, 43 minutes ago

BREAKING NEWS! French Study Finds That SARS-CoV-2 Literally ‘Kills’ GnRH Neurons And Tanycytes, Fueling Lots Of Serious Long Term Health Issues!

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BREAKING NEWS! French Study Finds That SARS-CoV-2 Literally ‘Kills’ GnRH Neurons And Tanycytes, Fueling Lots Of Serious Long Term Health Issues!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Sep 18, 2023  2 weeks, 13 hours, 43 minutes ago
COVID-19 News: A new study conducted by researchers at Université de Lille, Inserm, CHU Lille-France has uncovered a startling connection between the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cognitive impairments as well as reproductive hormone deficits in men. The research suggests that the virus may directly target and harm gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and tanycytes in the brain, potentially contributing to the development of long COVID symptoms and accelerating cognitive decline especially for men. This revelation has far-reaching implications for our understanding of the virus's impact on human health.

The following COVID-19 News coverage is the first to cover on SARS-CoV-2 ability to directly infect the GnRH neurons and cause damage to it.
The Link Between GnRH and Cognitive Decline
GnRH, often regarded as the master regulator of reproduction, plays a crucial role in maintaining reproductive health. However, recent studies have indicated that GnRH neurons extend beyond the reproductive axis and have connections to various brain regions involved in cognitive functions. Intriguingly, individuals with Down syndrome (DS), who often experience cognitive deficits, premature aging, and Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neurodegenerative changes, exhibit reduced GnRH expression. This observation led scientists to explore whether GnRH insufficiency, due to factors such as age or disease, could be a common mechanism contributing to cognitive decline in various contexts.
Connecting the Dots: COVID-19 and GnRH Dysfunction
The global COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges, with some patients experiencing prolonged and debilitating symptoms referred to as "long COVID." These symptoms often include cognitive difficulties, persistent anosmia (loss of smell), and hypogonadism (reduced sex hormone production), primarily in male patients. These symptoms parallel the characteristics of individuals with DS, raising questions about whether GnRH dysfunction could be at the root of these long COVID manifestations.
To investigate this hypothesis, the study team conducted an extensive research, examining hormonal profiles in male COVID-19 patients at different stages of infection and post-mortem brain tissue from COVID-19 patients. What they discovered was remarkable and alarming.
The Findings: GnRH Neurons and Tanycytes Under Attack
The study found that some male COVID-19 patients experienced persistent hypotestosteronaemia (low testosterone levels), which could originate from the hypothalamus - the brain region responsible for regulating hormone secretion. Notably, there was an inverse correlation between changes in testosterone levels and body weight over time, highlighting the hypothalamus's involvement in both hormonal regulation and metabolic functions.
Moreover, the research uncovered two potential routes of SARS-CoV-2 invasion into the brain. First, the virus infected olfactory sensory neurons, which are linked to the loss of smell experienced by many COVID-19 patients. Second, the virus invaded tanycytes, multifunctional glial cells within the hypothalamus.
Importantly, these tanycytes are known to interact with GnRH neurons, suggesting a direct link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and GnRH dysfunction.
Most alarmingly, the study found that GnRH neurons themselves were dying in the brains of all COVID-19 patients examined, resulting in a significant reduction in GnRH expression. This vulnerability extended to fetal GnRH neurons, suggesting that even developing individuals could be at risk of infection.
Implications for Long COVID and Beyond
The implications of these findings are profound. The neuroinvasion of SARS-CoV-2 into the hypothalamus, leading to GnRH neuron and tanycyte dysfunction, may be the underlying cause of various long COVID symptoms. This dysfunction could result in serious reproductive issues, metabolic disturbances, and mental health problems among long COVID patients. Furthermore, it raises concerns about the long-term risk of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders in individuals of all age groups who have experienced COVID-19.
Connecting the Dots: Impact on Fertility and Cognitive Function
One immediate concern is the potential impact on fertility in both men and women. The loss of GnRH expression, the master regulator of the reproductive axis, could lead to delayed fertility issues in survivors of COVID-19. This is especially concerning given the ongoing global decline in human fertility.
Additionally, GnRH neurons have connections to brain regions responsible for cognitive functions, such as the cortex and hippocampus. GnRH plays a role in maintaining brain connectivity and cognitive function in adults, and its reduced expression has been linked to cognitive deficits. Therefore, the dramatic downregulation of GnRH and the death of GnRH neurons in COVID-19 patients' brains may accelerate age-related cognitive decline. The cognitive symptoms commonly associated with long COVID, such as "brain fog," could be exacerbated by this GnRH dysfunction.
The Need for Further Research and Longitudinal Studies
While this groundbreaking study provides critical insights into the potential impact of SARS-CoV-2 on GnRH neurons and tanycytes, further research is essential. Longitudinal studies are needed to monitor hormone levels and cognitive function in COVID-19 survivors over an extended period to confirm the correlation between GnRH dysfunction and cognitive decline. Additionally, investigations into the potential benefits of GnRH replacement therapy to mitigate these deficits are warranted.
The Impact on Energy Metabolism and Neonates
The study also highlights the role of tanycytes in regulating energy metabolism and the potential breakdown of this regulation in COVID-19 patients, leading to an increased risk of diabetes. The interaction between GnRH neurons and tanycytes underscores the complexity of the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on the brain's regulatory systems.
Furthermore, the vulnerability of fetal GnRH neurons raises concerns about maternal or perinatal COVID-19 infections and their potential effects on neonates. The disruption of critical developmental processes, such as minipuberty, could have long-term consequences on both reproductive and cognitive health.
In conclusion, this groundbreaking study illuminates a potential link between SARS-CoV-2 infection, GnRH dysfunction, and the development of long COVID symptoms. It underscores the need for continued research, monitoring of COVID-19 survivors, and the exploration of potential therapeutic interventions to mitigate the long-term consequences of this viral infection on reproductive, metabolic, and cognitive health. The implications are far-reaching and require urgent attention to ensure the well-being of affected individuals and populations in the years to come.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: eBioMedicine.
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