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Papers of the Week

2020 May 23

J Neurovirol

COVID-19 and the nervous system.


Berger JR
J Neurovirol. 2020 May 23.
PMID: 32447630.


A pandemic due to novel coronavirus arose in mid-December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and in 3 months' time swept the world. The disease has been referred to as COVID-19, and the causative agent has been labelled SARS-CoV-2 due to its genetic similarities to the virus (SARS-CoV-1) responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic nearly 20 years earlier. The spike proteins of both viruses dictate tissue tropism using the angiotensin-converting enzyme type 2 (ACE-2) receptor to bind to cells. The ACE-2 receptor can be found in nervous system tissue and endothelial cells among the tissues of many other organs.Neurological complications have been observed with COVID-19. Myalgia and headache are relatively common, but serious neurological disease appears to be rare. No part of the neuraxis is spared. The neurological disorders occurring with COVID-19 may have many pathophysiological underpinnings. Some appear to be the consequence of direct viral invasion of the nervous system tissue, others arise as a postviral autoimmune process, and still others are the result of metabolic and systemic complications due to the associated critical illness. This review addresses the preliminary observations regarding the neurological disorders reported with COVID-19 to date and describes some of the disorders that are anticipated from prior experience with similar coronaviruses.