Coronavirus: is the nervous system also involved in infections?

Coronavirus: is the nervous system also involved in infections?

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COVID-19: Infections do not only affect the lungs

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has so far been mainly associated with cough, fever and difficulty breathing. But there are indications that COVID-19 can also damage the nervous system.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was often referred to as the respiratory virus. But meanwhile, scientific studies have shown that the pathogen is a "multi-organ virus" that affects many organs. And, according to a study, infection with the pathogen can also lead to neurological symptoms.

So far, there is no reliable evidence

As explained in a statement by the Justus Liebig University Gießen (JLU), infections with SARS-Cov-2 apparently also affect organs other than the lungs.

"There are indications of infections of the heart and kidneys in COVID-19, but also of the involvement of the central nervous system," said Prof. Dr. Till Acker, Head of the Institute for Neuropathology at the JLU and Chairman of the Board of the German Society for Neuropathology and Neuroanatomy (DGNN).

So far, however, there is no reliable evidence that neurons are affected by the novel corona virus or that SARS-CoV-2 is neuro-invaded; It has already been detected for infections with other human coronaviruses.

In order to investigate a possible involvement of the nervous system in COVID-19, on the initiative of the DGNN a nationwide register with human samples from the central and peripheral nervous system (CNS, PNS) in COVID-19 autopsies is now being set up.

Neurological symptoms in COVID-19

"It is discussed whether involvement of the central nervous system due to a disruption of the cardiorespiratory centers in the brain stem is partly responsible for the often unfavorable course of the disease in COVID-19 patients, even under ventilation," explains Prof. Acker.

Many people who develop COVID-19 suffer particularly from dizziness, headaches and severe impairment of their sense of smell and taste. A study from Wuhan (China) showed neurological complaints in a third of the patients with COVID-19.

In addition, the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 has already been detected in the cerebrospinal fluid.

The register is made available to the scientific community

With the new biobank, the basis should now be created for the detailed morphological, molecular and clinical characterization of a possible CNS involvement and a better understanding of the pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

It is not known in which clinical course of the disease and in what frequency the CNS is involved in COVID-19.

According to the information, the registry is to be networked with other COVID-19 patient registries for confederate queries using the platforms developed by the Medical Informatics Initiative (MI-I) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

"There will be a close exchange with other specialist societies," says Prof. Acker. "The register will be made available to the scientific community." (Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Justus Liebig University Gießen (JLU): Is the nervous system involved in SARS-CoV-2 infections ?, (accessed: May 26, 2020), Justus Liebig University Gießen (JLU)
  • Ling Mao, Huijuan Jin, Mengdie Wang, et al .: Neurologic Manifestations of Hospitalized Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wuhan, China; in: JAMA Neurology, (published: April 10, 2020), JAMA Neurology

Video: Covid-19 and the Nervous System - First Choice Neurology - Dr. Jeffrey Gelblum (August 2022).