Purpose of reviewAs of January 8, 2022, a global pandemic caused by infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2, a new RNA virus, has resulted in 304,896,785 cases in over 222 countries and regions, with over 5,500,683 deaths (www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/). Reports of neurological and psychiatric symptoms in the context of coronavirus infectious disease 2019 (COVID-19) range from headache, anosmia, and dysgeusia, to depression, fatigue, psychosis, seizures, delirium, suicide, meningitis, encephalitis, inflammatory demyelination, infarction, and acute hemorrhagic necrotizing encephalopathy. Moreover, 30-50% of COVID-19 survivors develop long-lasting neurologic symptoms, including a dysexecutive syndrome, with inattention and disorientation, and/or poor movement coordination. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within the central nervous system (CNS) of patients is rare, and mechanisms of neurological damage and ongoing neurologic diseases in COVID-19 patients are unknown. However, studies demonstrating viral glycoprotein effects on coagulation and cerebral vasculature, and hypoxia- and cytokine-mediated coagulopathy and CNS immunopathology suggest both virus-specific and neuroimmune responses may be involved. This review explores potential mechanistic insights that could contribute to COVID-19-related neurologic disease.Recent findingsWhile the development of neurologic diseases during acute COVID-19 is rarely associated with evidence of viral neuroinvasion, new evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein exhibits direct inflammatory and pro-coagulation effects. This, in conjunction with immune dysregulation resulting in cytokine release syndrome (CRS) may result in acute cerebrovascular or neuroinflammatory diseases. Additionally, CRS-mediated loss of blood-brain barrier integrity in specific brain regions may contribute to the expression of proinflammatory mediators by neural cells that may impact brain function long after resolution of acute infection. Importantly, host co-morbid diseases that affect vascular, pulmonary, or CNS function may contribute to the type of neurologic disease triggered by SARS-COV-2 infection.SummaryDistinct effects of SARS-CoV-2 S protein and CNS compartment- and region-specific responses to CRS may underlie acute and chronic neuroinflammatory diseases associated with COVID-19.
- S protein vasculopathy
- blood-brain barrier
- coronavirus infectious disease 2019-mediated neurologic disease
- severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2