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Ann Clin Transl Neurol ; 8(4): 968-979, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1155205


OBJECTIVE: Many neurological manifestations are associated with COVID-19, including a distinct form of encephalopathy related to cytokine storm, the acute systemic inflammatory syndrome present in a subgroup of COVID-19 patients. Cytokine storm is also associated with immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS), a complication of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy, a highly effective treatment for refractory hematological malignancies. We investigated whether COVID-19-related encephalopathy, ICANS, and other encephalopathies associated with cytokine storm, share clinical and investigative findings. METHODS: Narrative literature review. RESULTS: Comparisons between COVID-19-related encephalopathy and ICANS revealed several overlapping features. Clinically, these included dysexecutive syndrome, language disturbances, akinetic mutism and delirium. EEG showed a prevalence of frontal abnormalities. Brain MRI was often unrevealing. CSF elevated cytokine levels have been reported. A direct correlation between cytokine storm intensity and severity of neurological manifestations has been shown for both conditions. Clinical recovery occurred spontaneously or following immunotherapies in most of the patients. Similar clinical and investigative features were also reported in other encephalopathies associated with cytokine storm, such as hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, sepsis, and febrile infection-associated encephalopathies. INTERPRETATION: COVID-19-related encephalopathy and ICANS are characterized by a predominant electro-clinical frontal lobe dysfunction and share several features with other encephalopathies associated with cytokine storm, which may represent the common denominator of a clinical spectrum of neurological disorders. Therefore, we propose a unifying definition of cytokine storm-associated encephalopathy (CySE), and its diagnostic criteria.

Brain Diseases/physiopathology , Brain/physiopathology , COVID-19/physiopathology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/physiopathology , Immunotherapy, Adoptive/methods , Receptors, Chimeric Antigen , Brain Diseases/epidemiology , Brain Diseases/therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/therapy , Cytokine Release Syndrome/epidemiology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/therapy , Humans , Immunotherapy, Adoptive/trends
J Neurol ; 268(8): 2671-2675, 2021 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-841658


OBJECTIVE: To report on efficacy and safety of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy in a case series of patients with COVID-19-related encephalopathy. METHODS: We retrospectively collected data on all patients with COVID-19 hospitalized at two Italian hospitals who developed encephalopathy during disease course and were treated with IVIg. RESULTS: Five patients (two females, mean age 66.8 years) developed encephalopathy after a mean of 12.6 days, since the onset of respiratory/constitutional symptoms related to COVID-19. Four patients suffered severe respiratory distress, three of which required invasive mechanical ventilation. Neurological manifestations included impaired consciousness, agitation, delirium, pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. EEG demonstrated diffuse slowing in all patients. Brain MRI showed non-specific findings. CSF analysis revealed normal cell count and protein levels. In all subjects, RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 in CSF tested negative. IVIg at 0.4 g/kg/die was commenced 29.8 days (mean, range: 19-55 days) after encephalopathy onset, leading to complete electroclinical recovery in all patients, with an initial improvement of neuropsychiatric symptoms observed in 3.4 days (mean, range: 1-10 days). No adverse events related to IVIg were observed. CONCLUSIONS: Our preliminary findings suggest that IVIg may represent a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19-associated encephalopathy. Clinical efficacy may be driven by the anti-inflammatory action of IVIg, associated with its anti-cytokine qualities.

Brain Diseases , COVID-19 , Aged , Brain Diseases/drug therapy , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulins, Intravenous , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2
J Neuroimmunol ; 349: 577400, 2020 12 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-792960


Encephalopathy is emerging as a recurrent complication of COVID-19 yet remains poorly characterized. We report the case of a middle-aged woman with COVID-19-related encephalopathy presenting as expressive aphasia and inattentiveness, subsequently progressing to agitation and marked confusion. Brain MRI and CSF analysis were unremarkable, while EEG showed slowing with frontal sharp waves. Neuropsychiatric symptoms resolved following treatment with tocilizumab. CNS involvement in COVID-19 may present as a subacute encephalopathy characterized by prominent frontal lobe dysfunction, with language disturbances as first neurological manifestation. Future studies should further investigate the role of tocilizumab in treating COVID-19-related encephalopathy.

Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/therapeutic use , Aphasia/etiology , Brain Diseases/virology , COVID-19/complications , Cytokine Release Syndrome/drug therapy , Brain Diseases/drug therapy , Brain Diseases/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/virology , Female , Humans , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Drug Treatment