Tuesday, May 24, 2022

New study out of Stanford University suggests Covid brain fog and chemo brain might overlap

Researchers say Covid brain fog may mirror chemo brain — and Alzheimer's.

The major premise of a new study, according to a recent story by Ariana Eunjung Cha in The Washington Post, is that the brain inflammation in so-called long Covid is similar to that in cancer patients.

Dr. Michelle Monje
The study by Stanford University neuroscientist Dr. Michelle Monje, the article states, "is part of a crucial and growing body of research that suggests similarities in the mechanisms of post-covid cognitive changes and other long-studied brain conditions, including 'chemo brain,' Alzheimer's and other post-viral syndromes following infections with influenza, Epstein-Barr, HIV or Ebola."

Avindra Nath, intramural clinical director of the neurological disorders and stroke unit of the National Institutes of Health, declares that "there is humongous overlap" between long-Covid and those other conditions.

Monje, the Post article says, "was fascinated" to find similar brain changes among patients with chemo brain and Covid brain fog. "It was really quite striking," she's quoted as saying.

In cancer patients undergoing treatment, the article notes, a malfunction in brain cells that serve as the organ's surveillance and defense system, cells known as microglia, is "believed to be a cause of the fuzzy thinking that many describe. Scientists have also theorized that in Alzheimer's disease, these cells may be impeded, making it difficult for them to counteract the cellular war and tear of aging."

The study by Monje, a MacArthur "genius" grant recipient, involved her collaborating with Akiko Iwasaki, a Yale University immunobiologist who's become one of the leading voices on the coronavirus, and David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York. 

The Post story also reports that "another team of researchers from Harvard and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have highlighted how both in Covid-19 and chronic fatigue syndrome, too many oxygen molecules pile up in a cell — possibly resulting in inflammation that leads to cognitive issues."

In addition, Cha's article points out that "an examination of brain autopsy tissue by a Columbia University professor from 10 patients who died of Covid-19 turned up a molecular change bearing the distinct signature of Alzheimer's." 

More information about chemo brain can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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