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Brain ; 144(9): 2696-2708, 2021 10 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1185655


Many patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection develop neurological signs and symptoms; although, to date, little evidence exists that primary infection of the brain is a significant contributing factor. We present the clinical, neuropathological and molecular findings of 41 consecutive patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections who died and underwent autopsy in our medical centre. The mean age was 74 years (38-97 years), 27 patients (66%) were male and 34 (83%) were of Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity. Twenty-four patients (59%) were admitted to the intensive care unit. Hospital-associated complications were common, including eight patients (20%) with deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism, seven (17%) with acute kidney injury requiring dialysis and 10 (24%) with positive blood cultures during admission. Eight (20%) patients died within 24 h of hospital admission, while 11 (27%) died more than 4 weeks after hospital admission. Neuropathological examination of 20-30 areas from each brain revealed hypoxic/ischaemic changes in all brains, both global and focal; large and small infarcts, many of which appeared haemorrhagic; and microglial activation with microglial nodules accompanied by neuronophagia, most prominently in the brainstem. We observed sparse T lymphocyte accumulation in either perivascular regions or in the brain parenchyma. Many brains contained atherosclerosis of large arteries and arteriolosclerosis, although none showed evidence of vasculitis. Eighteen patients (44%) exhibited pathologies of neurodegenerative diseases, which was not unexpected given the age range of our patients. We examined multiple fresh frozen and fixed tissues from 28 brains for the presence of viral RNA and protein, using quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR, RNAscope® and immunocytochemistry with primers, probes and antibodies directed against the spike and nucleocapsid regions. The PCR analysis revealed low to very low, but detectable, viral RNA levels in the majority of brains, although they were far lower than those in the nasal epithelia. RNAscope® and immunocytochemistry failed to detect viral RNA or protein in brains. Our findings indicate that the levels of detectable virus in coronavirus disease 2019 brains are very low and do not correlate with the histopathological alterations. These findings suggest that microglial activation, microglial nodules and neuronophagia, observed in the majority of brains, do not result from direct viral infection of brain parenchyma, but more likely from systemic inflammation, perhaps with synergistic contribution from hypoxia/ischaemia. Further studies are needed to define whether these pathologies, if present in patients who survive coronavirus disease 2019, might contribute to chronic neurological problems.

Brain Infarction/pathology , Brain/pathology , COVID-19/pathology , Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain/pathology , Intracranial Hemorrhages/pathology , Acute Kidney Injury/complications , Acute Kidney Injury/physiopathology , Acute Kidney Injury/therapy , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Bacteremia/complications , Brain/metabolism , Brain Infarction/complications , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/physiopathology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Female , Humans , Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain/complications , Inflammation , Intensive Care Units , Intracranial Hemorrhages/complications , Male , Microglia/pathology , Middle Aged , Neurons/pathology , Phagocytosis , Phosphoproteins/metabolism , Pulmonary Embolism/complications , Pulmonary Embolism/physiopathology , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Renal Dialysis , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Survival Rate , T-Lymphocytes/pathology , Venous Thrombosis/complications , Venous Thrombosis/physiopathology
J Clin Neurosci ; 86: 180-183, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1032688


Cerebrovascular complications among critically ill patients with COVID-19 have yet to be fully characterized. In this retrospective case series from a single academic tertiary care referral center in New York City, we present 12 patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes that were found on imaging after a period of prolonged sedation in the setting of COVID-19 pneumonia. This series demonstrates a pattern of cerebrovascular events clinically masked by deep sedation required for management of COVID-19 related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Of the 12 patients included, 10 had ischemic stroke, 4 of which had hemorrhagic conversion, and 2 had primary intracerebral hemorrhage. Ten patients were on therapeutic anticoagulation prior to discovery of their stroke, and the remainder received intermediate dose anticoagulation (in a range between prophylactic and therapeutic levels). Additional studies are needed to further characterize the counterbalancing risks of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, as well as the optimal management of this patient population.

COVID-19/complications , Deep Sedation/adverse effects , Stroke/diagnosis , Stroke/virology , Aged , Anticoagulants/adverse effects , Critical Illness , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Respiration, Artificial/methods , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2
JAMA Neurol ; 2020 Jul 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-627768


IMPORTANCE: It is uncertain whether coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with a higher risk of ischemic stroke than would be expected from a viral respiratory infection. OBJECTIVE: To compare the rate of ischemic stroke between patients with COVID-19 and patients with influenza, a respiratory viral illness previously associated with stroke. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This retrospective cohort study was conducted at 2 academic hospitals in New York City, New York, and included adult patients with emergency department visits or hospitalizations with COVID-19 from March 4, 2020, through May 2, 2020. The comparison cohort included adults with emergency department visits or hospitalizations with influenza A/B from January 1, 2016, through May 31, 2018 (spanning moderate and severe influenza seasons). EXPOSURES: COVID-19 infection confirmed by evidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in the nasopharynx by polymerase chain reaction and laboratory-confirmed influenza A/B. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: A panel of neurologists adjudicated the primary outcome of acute ischemic stroke and its clinical characteristics, mechanisms, and outcomes. We used logistic regression to compare the proportion of patients with COVID-19 with ischemic stroke vs the proportion among patients with influenza. RESULTS: Among 1916 patients with emergency department visits or hospitalizations with COVID-19, 31 (1.6%; 95% CI, 1.1%-2.3%) had an acute ischemic stroke. The median age of patients with stroke was 69 years (interquartile range, 66-78 years); 18 (58%) were men. Stroke was the reason for hospital presentation in 8 cases (26%). In comparison, 3 of 1486 patients with influenza (0.2%; 95% CI, 0.0%-0.6%) had an acute ischemic stroke. After adjustment for age, sex, and race, the likelihood of stroke was higher with COVID-19 infection than with influenza infection (odds ratio, 7.6; 95% CI, 2.3-25.2). The association persisted across sensitivity analyses adjusting for vascular risk factors, viral symptomatology, and intensive care unit admission. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this retrospective cohort study from 2 New York City academic hospitals, approximately 1.6% of adults with COVID-19 who visited the emergency department or were hospitalized experienced ischemic stroke, a higher rate of stroke compared with a cohort of patients with influenza. Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and to investigate possible thrombotic mechanisms associated with COVID-19.