Long Covid: Break in blood-brain barrier likely causing ‘brain fog,’ study finds

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Brain fog, a symptom felt by those with long Covid, is likely caused by a leak in the blood-brain barrier, according to a new study published on Thursday.

The feeling of being lost within a maze is among the best ways to describe the issue. It has become among the top symptoms of long Covid, which also has forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, depression, anxiety and more, as traits.

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Published in the Nature Neuroscience journal, researchers from Trinity College Dublin and FutureNeuro found that the barrier that controls which substances enter and exit the brain could have broken down due to the presence of materials not usually found in the blood.

From 14 of the patients with COVID-19, the study found that a protein called S100β was present in higher levels in comparison to those who did not have long Covid and those who never had the coronavirus.

This protein is produced in the brain and is not supposed to be found in the bloodstream, indicating a leak in the blood-brain barrier, according to the study. They are also known to contribute to blood clots, which is another rare trait of the virus’ presence in the human body.

If the delicate balance is altered in this way, the researchers said that it could result in changes to the neural functions that can have an impact on memory consolidation and storage.

Once the differentiating factors were identified, further tests including MRI scans confirmed the study’s findings.

The study was conducted on 32 people: 10 who recovered from the virus and 22 who claimed long Covid, after the devastating spread in 2020 that has claimed over seven million lives since the outbreak.

Many around the world are also affected by long Covid to varying degrees, from fully functioning individuals with minor discomforts and changes to routine to those that are in full bed rest.

Those with brain fog not stemming from long Covid will be a focus moving forward, to understand the similarities and differences.

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