Central nervous system manifestations of COVID-19: A systematic review

J Neurol Sci. 2020 Jun 15:413:116832. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2020.116832. Epub 2020 Apr 11.


Objective: In this systematic review, we will discuss the evidence on the occurrence of central nervous system (CNS) involvement and neurological manifestations in patients with COVID-19.

Methods: MEDLINE (accessed from PubMed) and Scopus from December 01, 2019 to March 26, 2020 were systematically searched for related published articles. In both electronic databases, the following search strategy was implemented and these key words (in the title/abstract) were used: "COVID 19" OR "coronavirus" AND "brain" OR "CNS" OR "neurologic".

Results: Through the search strategy, we could identify two articles about neurological involvement by COVID-19. One of these publications was a narrative review and the other one was a viewpoint. However, the authors scanned the reference lists of the included studies and could identify multiple references. One study, specifically investigated the neurological manifestations of COVID-19 and could document CNS manifestations in 25% of the patients. Most of the studies investigated the manifestations of COVID-19 in general.

Conclusion: While neurological manifestations of COVID-19 have not been studied appropriately, it is highly likely that some of these patients, particularly those who suffer from a severe illness, have CNS involvement and neurological manifestations. Precise and targeted documentation of neurological symptoms, detailed clinical, neurological, and electrophysiological investigations of the patients, attempts to isolate SARS-CoV-2 from cerebrospinal fluid, and autopsies of the COVID-19 victims may clarify the role played by this virus in causing neurological manifestations.

Keywords: CNS; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Neurological; Seizure.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / virology*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology*
  • SARS-CoV-2