Brain Pathology in COVID-19: Clinical Manifestations and Potential Mechanisms

Neurosci Bull. 2023 Sep 16. doi: 10.1007/s12264-023-01110-0. Online ahead of print.


Neurological manifestations of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are less noticeable than the respiratory symptoms, but they may be associated with disability and mortality in COVID-19. Even though Omicron caused less severe disease than Delta, the incidence of neurological manifestations is similar. More than 30% of patients experienced "brain fog", delirium, stroke, and cognitive impairment, and over half of these patients presented abnormal neuroimaging outcomes. In this review, we summarize current advances in the clinical findings of neurological manifestations in COVID-19 patients and compare them with those in patients with influenza infection. We also illustrate the structure and cellular invasion mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 and describe the pathway for central SARS-CoV-2 invasion. In addition, we discuss direct damage and other pathological conditions caused by SARS-CoV-2, such as an aberrant interferon response, cytokine storm, lymphopenia, and hypercoagulation, to provide treatment ideas. This review may offer new insights into preventing or treating brain damage in COVID-19.

Keywords: Brain; COVID-19; Neurological pathology; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review