Microstructural brain abnormalities, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction after mild COVID-19.

Microstructural brain abnormalities, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction after mild COVID-19.

Publication date: Jan 19, 2024

Although some studies have shown neuroimaging and neuropsychological alterations in post-COVID-19 patients, fewer combined neuroimaging and neuropsychology evaluations of individuals who presented a mild acute infection. Here we investigated cognitive dysfunction and brain changes in a group of mildly infected individuals. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 97 consecutive subjects (median age of 41 years) without current or history of psychiatric symptoms (including anxiety and depression) after a mild infection, with a median of 79 days (and mean of 97 days) after diagnosis of COVID-19. We performed semi-structured interviews, neurological examinations, 3T-MRI scans, and neuropsychological assessments. For MRI analyses, we included a group of non-infected 77 controls. The MRI study included white matter (WM) investigation with diffusion tensor images (DTI) and functional connectivity with resting-state functional MRI (RS-fMRI). The patients reported memory loss (36%), fatigue (31%) and headache (29%). The quantitative analyses confirmed symptoms of fatigue (83% of participants), excessive somnolence (35%), impaired phonemic verbal fluency (21%), impaired verbal categorical fluency (13%) and impaired logical memory immediate recall (16%). The WM analyses with DTI revealed higher axial diffusivity values in post-infected patients compared to controls. Compared to controls, there were no significant differences in the functional connectivity of the posterior cingulum cortex. There were no significant correlations between neuropsychological scores and neuroimaging features (including DTI and RS-fMRI). Our results suggest persistent cognitive impairment and subtle white matter abnormalities in individuals mildly infected without anxiety or depression symptoms. The longitudinal analyses will clarify whether these alterations are temporary or permanent.

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Concepts Keywords
41years Brain
Headache Cognitive
Interviews Controls
Mild Covid
Mri Dti

Original Article

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