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Study finds link between COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s Disease

A Cleveland Clinic study has found a connection between COVID-19 and brain changes commonly seen in Alzheimer ’s disease.
Credit: Cleveland Clinic

September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day. A Cleveland Clinic study has found a connection between COVID-19 and brain changes commonly seen in Alzheimer ’s disease. It appears they share similar biological pathways.

“What we did here is we tried to look at the gene or protein expression in 80 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, for example, and the gene or protein expression data from the COVID-19 patient,” said Feixiong Cheng, PhD, lead author for the study.

He said some COVID-19 long haulers, typically those older in age, have reported experiencing memory loss, cognitive impairment and other psychiatric issues. There are some theories about why that is, but nothing has been confirmed.

However, they now know after examining different gene expressions in the body, that the virus can affect the brain in the same way Alzheimer’s does. For example, it can cause neuro-inflammation and brain microvascular injury.

Cheng said this information can be helpful to doctors when it comes to identifying a person’s risk and creating a prevention and treatment plan. It’s also another reason why the vaccine is so important.

“I think the vaccination is also very important in not just protecting ourselves but also protecting our family, colleagues, our friends. For me, this virus is very bad and we need to try our best to fight against the virus,” he explained.

Cheng said their research is still far from over. They are continuing to collect patient data to better understand why COVID-19 can cause long-term side effects in the brain.

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