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
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.