The Effect of COVID-19 on NF-κB and Neurological Manifestations of Disease

Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Aug;58(8):4178-4187. doi: 10.1007/s12035-021-02438-2. Epub 2021 Jun 1.


The coronavirus disease that presumably began in 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and has resulted in a pandemic. Initially, COVID-19 was thought to only affect respiration. However, accumulating evidence shows a wide range of neurological symptoms are also associated with COVID-19, such as anosmia/ageusia, headaches, seizures, demyelination, mental confusion, delirium, and coma. Neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients may arise due to a cytokine storm and a heighten state of inflammation. The nuclear factor kappa-light-chain enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) is a central pathway involved with inflammation and is shown to be elevated in a dose-dependent matter in response to coronaviruses. NF-κB has a role in cytokine storm syndrome, which is associated with greater severity in COVID-19-related symptoms. Therefore, therapeutics that reduce the NF-κB pathway should be considered in the treatment of COVID-19. Neuro-COVID-19 units have been established across the world to examine the neurological symptoms associated with COVID-19. Neuro-COVID-19 is increasingly becoming an accepted term among scientists and clinicians, and interdisciplinary teams should be created to implement strategies for treating the wide range of neurological symptoms observed in COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cognitive impairment; NF-κB; Neuro-COVID-19; Oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / virology
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / metabolism*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Nervous System Diseases / virology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology*


  • NF-kappa B