Neuropathogenesis of acute coronavirus disease 2019

Curr Opin Neurol. 2021 Jun 1;34(3):417-422. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000944.


Purpose of review: Over the course of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that there is a high prevalence of neurological complications in people infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Recent findings: Studies of central nervous system (CNS) tissue in brain model systems and from adults with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection have begun to uncover potential mechanisms for neurological damage during COVID-19. These studies suggest that direct viral invasion of the CNS occurs in a subset of cases but does not frequently cause overt viral meningoencephalitis. Vascular abnormalities including microvascular thrombi and endothelial activation, as well as parainfectious processes, including CNS specific immune responses, may contribute to neurological symptoms during acute SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Summary: Neuroimmune perturbations and vascular inflammation observed in people with COVID-19 may warrant investigation of immune-modulating interventions to ameliorate neurological complications associated with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. These therapies may also impact the trajectory of potential long-term complications of COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / immunology
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Vasculitis / etiology
  • Vasculitis / immunology