Literature Review (Grey)
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the far-reaching pandemic, has infected approximately 185 million of the world’s population to date. After infection, certain groups, including older adults, men, and people of color, are more likely to have adverse medical outcomes. COVID-19 can affect multiple organ systems, even within asymptomatic/mild severity individuals, with progressively worse damage for those with higher severity infections. The COVID-19 virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), primarily attaches to cells through the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, a universal receptor present in most major organ systems. As SARS-CoV-2 binds to the ACE2 receptor, its bioavailability becomes limited, thus disrupting homeostatic organ function and inducing an injury cascade. Organ damage can then arise from multiple sources including direct cellular infection, overactive detrimental systemic immune response, and ischemia/hypoxia through thromboembolisms or disruption of perfusion. In the brain, SARS-CoV-2 has neuroinvasive and neurotropic characteristics with acute and chronic neurovirulent potential. In the cardiovascular system, COVID-19 can induce myocardial and systemic vascular damage along with thrombosis. Other organ systems such as the lungs, kidney, and liver are all at risk for infection damage. The authors ‘hypothesis is that each injury consequence has the independent potential to induce long-term cognitive deficits with the possibility of progressing to or worsening pre-existing dementia. Already, reports from recovered COVID19 patients indicate that cognitive alterations and long-term symptoms are prevalent. This critical review highlights the injury pathways possible through SARS-CoV-2 infection that have the potential to increase and contribute to cognitive impairment and dementia.
Pyne JD, Brickman AM. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dementia risk: Potential pathways to cognitive decline. Neurodegener Dis. 2021 Jul 28. doi: 10.1159/000518581. Epub ahead of print.