Scientists at the University of Washington in the United States have shown that the pathogenic proteins of the coronavirus can directly affect the brain, causing potentially fatal disorders in the nervous system. This is reported in an article published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The researchers found that the S-protein (S1) attached to the envelope of the coronavirus can itself cross the blood-brain barrier in mice, triggering inflammation through the release of cytokines. In this way, it is similar to the gp 120 protein in HIV-1, which is also a glycoprotein and binds to cellular receptors. Like gp 120, the coronavirus protein is able to enter the brain, which allows SARS-CoV-2 to attack the respiratory centers in the brain and cause respiratory distress.
Experimental results have shown that S1 is transported faster in the olfactory bulb and kidneys in men than in women. This may be due to the increased predisposition of men to the more severe course of COVID-19.
The results confirm the findings of scientists at the Humboldt University of Berlin, who proved that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is able to enter the brain through the olfactory nerve, causing direct damage to the central nervous system and dangerous neurological symptoms. Researchers have demonstrated the presence of viral RNA in various areas of the nasopharynx and brain of patients with COVID-19.