Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis Post-COVID-19 Is Not Suggestive of Persistent Central Nervous System Infection

Ann Neurol. 2022 Jan;91(1):150-157. doi: 10.1002/ana.26262. Epub 2021 Nov 22.


This study was undertaken to assess whether SARS-CoV-2 causes a persistent central nervous system infection. SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody index and SARS-CoV-2 RNA were studied in cerebrospinal fluid following COVID-19. Cerebrospinal fluid was assessed between days 1 and 30 (n = 12), between days 31 and 90 (n = 8), or later than 90 days (post-COVID-19, n = 20) after COVID-19 diagnosis. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was absent in all patients, and in none of the 20 patients with post-COVID-19 syndrome were intrathecally produced anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies detected. The absence of evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in cerebrospinal fluid argues against a persistent central nervous system infection as a cause of neurological or neuropsychiatric post-COVID-19 syndrome. ANN NEUROL 2022;91:150-157.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19 / cerebrospinal fluid
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Central Nervous System Infections / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Central Nervous System Infections / virology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / virology
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome
  • RNA, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • RNA, Viral