DOI: 10.3390/cells13060478 ISSN: 2073-4409

Blood Markers Show Neural Consequences of LongCOVID-19

Norina Tang, Tatsuo Kido, Jian Shi, Erin McCafferty, Judith M. Ford, Kaitlyn Dal Bon, Lynn Pulliam
  • General Medicine

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) persists throughout the world with over 65 million registered cases of survivors with post-COVID-19 sequelae, also known as LongCOVID-19 (LongC). LongC survivors exhibit various symptoms that span multiple organ systems, including the nervous system. To search for neurological markers of LongC, we investigated the soluble biomolecules present in the plasma and the proteins associated with plasma neuronal-enriched extracellular vesicles (nEVs) in 33 LongC patients with neurological impairment (nLongC), 12 COVID-19 survivors without any LongC symptoms (Cov), and 28 pre-COVID-19 healthy controls (HC). COVID-19 positive participants were infected between 2020 and 2022, not hospitalized, and were vaccinated or unvaccinated before infection. IL-1β was significantly increased in both nLongC and Cov and IL-8 was elevated in only nLongC. Both brain-derived neurotrophic factor and cortisol were significantly elevated in nLongC and Cov compared to HC. nEVs from people with nLongC had significantly elevated protein markers of neuronal dysfunction, including amyloid beta 42, pTau181 and TDP-43. This study shows chronic peripheral inflammation with increased stress after COVID-19 infection. Additionally, differentially expressed nEV neurodegenerative proteins were identified in people recovering from COVID-19 regardless of persistent symptoms.

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