Brain inflammation is a major symptom of COVID-19, the study found
For this study, researchers wanted to look at the brains of people who had previously been infected with COVID-19 and reported long-term symptoms of COVID, such as depression, fatigue, and brain fog.
Participants underwent brain imaging, and compared to healthy controls, their brains showed higher levels of translocator protein (TSPO), which indicates inflammation in the brain.
As study co-author and neuroscientist Jeffrey H. Meyer, MD, explains in a press release, “[The] “The regions of the brain that had the most inflammation were those associated with the ability to enjoy things, motivational energy, and the ability to think and move quickly.”
Meyer previously pioneered research into the relationship between depression and brain inflammation2finding that depression was associated with an average of 30% more brain inflammation in depressed people compared to the brains of non-depressed people.
“Inflammation in the brain is believed to be a critical step in causing the neurological and psychiatric symptoms of persistent COVID-19,” adds Meyer, “so confirming this is vital to developing treatments for people who experience symptoms.”
Looking ahead, the team hopes their research will help develop new treatments for lingering COVID-19 and brain inflammation, and in the meantime, here’s how to keep inflammation at a healthy level.