Literature Review (Grey)
RAINBOW SYSTEM: GREY
Other than its direct impact on cardiopulmonary health, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection affects additional body systems, especially in older adults. Several studies have reported acute neurological symptoms that present at onset or develop during hospitalisation, with associated neural injuries. Whilst the acute neurological phase is widely documented, the long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection on neurocognitive functioning remain unknown. Although an evidence-based framework describing the disease chronic phase is premature, it is important to lay the foundations for future data-driven models. This systematic review aimed at summarising the literature on neuroimaging and neuropathological findings in older over-60 patients with COVID-19 following a cognitive neuroscientific perspective, to clarify the most vulnerable brain areas and speculate on the possible cognitive consequences. PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched to identify relevant manuscripts published between 1st March 2020 and 31th December 2020. Outputs were screened and selected by two assessors. Relevant studies not detected by literature search were added manually. Ninety studies, mainly single cases and case series, were included. Several neuroimaging and neuropathological findings in older patients with COVID-19 emerged from these studies, with cerebrovascular damage having a prominent role. Abnormalities (hyperintensities, hypoperfusion, inflammation, and cellular damage) were reported in most brain areas. The most consistent cross-aetiology findings were in white matter, brainstem and fronto-temporal areas. Viral DNA was detected mainly in olfactory, orbitofrontal and brainstem areas. The authors concluded that studies on COVID-19 related neural damage are rich and diverse, but limited to description of hospitalised patients with fatal outcome (i.e., in neuropathological studies) or severe symptoms (i.e., in neuroimaging studies). The damage seen in this population indicates acute and largely irreversible dysfunction to neural regions involved in major functional networks that support normal cognitive and behavioural functioning. It is still unknown whether the long-term impact of the virus will be limited to chronic evolution of acute events, whether sub-clinical pathological processes will be exacerbated or whether novel mechanisms will emerge. Based on current literature, future theoretical frameworks describing the long-term impact of COVID-19 infection on mental abilities will have to factor in major trends of aetiological and topographic heterogeneity.
Manca R, De Marco M, Ince PG, Venneri A. Heterogeneity in Regional Damage Detected by Neuroimaging and Neuropathological Studies in Older Adults With COVID-19: A Cognitive-Neuroscience Systematic Review to Inform the Long-Term Impact of the Virus on Neurocognitive Trajectories. Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 Jun 3;13:646908. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.646908