Yale School of Medicine: Researchers Connect Spinal Fluid Autoantibodies to Neurological Symptoms in COVID-19 Patients


In March 2020, Shelli Farhadian, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, infectious diseases, and neurology began to see parallels in her pre-pandemic research on neurological effects in patients with HIV infections, prompting her to think about the potential effects that COVID-19 could have on the brain. Cohort studies in China, France, and New York City, estimated that somewhere around 30% of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 have some sort of neurological component to their illness. Farhadian began encountering patients with neurological complaints and the absence of other traditional COVID-19 symptoms, who then later tested positive for the virus. Farhadian soon began enrolling her patient in the study and having them undergo a lumbar puncture to drain cerebral spinal fluid from their back, the same fluid that surrounds the brain. Farhadian and her team found that unique immune responses were seen in the spinal fluid compared to what was going on in the rest of the body, including increased levels of antibody-producing cells than would typically be expected in the spinal fluid. They also found a high level of autoantibodies in the spinal fluid, which suggests that these brain-targeting antibodies are a potential contributor to neurological complications. The researchers are now focused on investigating whether or not the auto-antibodies contribute to the post-COVID-19 neurological complications. Read the full article here

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