Characteristics of mental health implications and plasma metabolomics in patients recently recovered from COVID-19

Transl Psychiatry. 2021 May 21;11(1):307. doi: 10.1038/s41398-021-01426-3.


This study aimed to explore the associations between cerebral white matter (WM) alterations, mental health status, and metabolism in recovered COVID-19 patients. We included 28 recovered COVID-19 patients and 27 healthy controls between April 2020 and June 2020. Demographic data, the mental health scores, diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) data, and plasma metabolomics were collected and compared between the two groups. Tract-based spatial statistics and graph theory approaches were used for DTI data analysis. Untargeted metabolomics analysis of the plasma was performed. Correlation analyses were performed between these characteristics. Recovered COVID-19 patients showed decreased fractional anisotropy, increased mean diffusivity and radial diffusivity values in widespread brain regions, and significantly lower global efficiency, longer shortest path length, and less nodal local efficiency in superior occipital gyrus (all, P < 0.05, Bonferroni corrected). Our results also demonstrated significantly different plasma metabolic profiling in recovered COVID-19 patients even at 3 months after their hospital discharge, which was mainly related to purine pathways, amino acids, lipids, and amine metabolism. Certain regions with cerebral WM alterations in the recovered patients showed significant correlations with different metabolites and the mental health scores. We observed multiple alterations in both WM integrity and plasma metabolomics that may explain the deteriorated mental health of recovered COVID-19 patients. These findings may provide potential biomarkers for the mental health evaluation for the recovered COVID-19 patients and potential targets for novel therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Metabolomics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging