COVID-19 on the brain

Investigator: Tetsuo Ashizawa, MD

Study Coordinator: Valerie Flores

Status: Enrolling Number: NCT99999999

Phone: 713.363.9803

Protocol Number: PRO00031083


While solid evidence for direct CNS infection by SARS-CoV-2 is lacking, a consensus has been forming that affected patients are at higher risk of developing neuropsychiatric and neurologic sequelae after overcoming the primary infection, as a consequence of systemic inflammation, acute respiratory dysfunction, and or cerebrovascular deficits. Such anticipated long-term effects are consistent with prolonged neurological symptoms reported by a subset of patients for up to 8 weeks and with higher frequency than cough. Neurological disorders associated with pandemic viral infections have been well documented8,10, recurrent outbreaks of COVID-19 are likely and a resurgence is possible as late as 2024, indicating the disease will remain a public health crisis for the coming years. Even if a safe and effective vaccine is developed and widely administered within the next year, the implications of neurologic sequelae of COVID-19 on the lives of patients who will have been infected until then 12 million confirmed cases globally as of July 2020, representing a fraction of actual infections is immense. Therefore, there is a compelling need to elucidate the long-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the CNS. Non-invasive MR neuroimaging is perfectly suited for this purpose as it can track structural, microstructural, vascular, and biochemical changes in the CNS. To reliably capture the breadth of CNS consequences across populations, this goal will be best achieved by using standardized methodology in a multi-site setting.
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