Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Mar 14. doi: 10.1007/s12035-021-02318-9. Online ahead of print.
There are regular reports of extrapulmonary infections and manifestations related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Coronaviruses are potentially neurotropic, which renders neuronal tissue vulnerable to infection, especially in elderly individuals or in those with neuro-comorbid conditions. Complaints of ageusia, anosmia, myalgia, and headache; reports of diseases such as stroke, encephalopathy, seizure, and encephalitis; and loss of consciousness in patients with COVID-19 confirm the neuropathophysiological aspect of this disease. The brain is linked to pulmonary organs, physiologically through blood circulation, and functionally through the nervous system. The interdependence of these vital organs may further aggravate the pathophysiological aspects of COVID-19. The induction of a cytokine storm in systemic circulation can trigger a neuroinflammatory cascade, which can subsequently compromise the blood-brain barrier and activate microglia- and astrocyte-borne Toll-like receptors, thereby leading to neuronal tissue damage. Hence, a holistic approach should be adopted by healthcare professionals while treating COVID-19 patients with a history of neurodegenerative disorders, neuropsychological complications, or any other neuro-compromised conditions. Imperatively, vaccines are being developed at top priority to contain the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, and different vaccines are at different stages of development globally. This review discusses the concerns regarding the neuronal complications of COVID-19 and the possible mechanisms of amelioration.