Abstract Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was initially described as a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is now known, however, that many other biological systems are affected, including the central nervous system (CNS). Neurological manifestations such as stroke, encephalitis, and psychiatric conditions have been reported in COVID-19 patients, but its neurotropic potential is still debated. Here, we investigate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the brain from an infant patient deceased from COVID-19. The susceptibility to virus infection was compatible with the expression levels of viral receptor ACE2, which is increased in the ChP in comparison to other brain areas. To better comprehend the dynamics of the viral infection in neural cells, we exposed human neurospheres to SARS-CoV-2. Similarly to the human tissue, we found viral RNA in neurospheres, although viral particles in the culture supernatant were not infective. Based on our observations in vivo and in vitro, we hypothesize that SARS-CoV-2 does not generate productive infection in developing neural cells and that infection of ChP weakens the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier allowing viruses, immune cells, and cytokines to access the CNS, causing neural damage in the young brain.

2nd October 2020 • comment

Psycho-Neuroendocrine-Immune Interactions in COVID-19: Potential Impacts on Mental Health

by Ícaro Raony, Camila Saggioro de Figueiredo, Pablo Pandolfo, Elizabeth Giestal-de-Araujo, Priscilla Oliveira-Silva Bomfim, Wilson Savino

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The impacts of the disease may be beyond the respiratory system, also affecting mental health. Several factors may be involved in the association between COVID-19 and psychiatric outcomes, such as fear inherent in the pandemic, adverse effects of treatments, as well as financial stress, and social isolation. Herein we discuss the growing evidence suggesting that the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and host may also trigger changes in brain and behavior. Based on the similarity of SARS-CoV-2 with other coronaviruses, it is conceivable that changes in endocrine and immune response in the periphery or in the central nervous system may be involved in the association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and impaired mental health. This is likely to be further enhanced, since millions of people worldwide are isolated in quarantine to minimize the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and social isolation can also lead to neuroendocrine-immune changes. Accordingly, we highlight here the hypothesis that neuroendocrine-immune interactions may be involved in negative impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection and social isolation on psychiatric issues.

4th July 2020 • comment