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Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm ; 7(6)2020 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1105773


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the pathophysiologic mechanism of encephalopathy and prolonged comatose or stuporous state in severally ill patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). METHODS: Eight COVID-19 patients with signs of encephalopathy were tested for antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the serum and CSF using a Food and Drug Administration-approved and independently validated ELISA. Blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity and immunoglobulin G (IgG) intrathecal synthesis were further tested using albumin and IgG indices. The CSF was also tested for autoimmune encephalitis antibodies and 14-3-3, a marker of ongoing neurodegeneration. RESULTS: All patients had anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their CSF, and 4 of 8 patients had high titers, comparable to high serum values. One patient had anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG intrathecal synthesis, and 3 others had disruption of the blood-brain barrier. The CSF in 4 patients was positive for 14-3-3-protein suggesting ongoing neurodegeneration. In all patients, the CSF was negative for autoimmune encephalitis antibodies and SARS-CoV-2 by PCR. None of the patients, apart from persistent encephalopathic signs, had any focal neurologic signs or history or specific neurologic disease. CONCLUSIONS: High-titer anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in the CSF of comatose or encephalopathic patients demonstrating intrathecal IgG synthesis or BBB disruption. A disrupted BBB may facilitate the entry of cytokines and inflammatory mediators into the CNS enhancing neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. The observations highlight the need for prospective CSF studies to determine the pathogenic role of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and identify early therapeutic interventions.

Autoantibodies/cerebrospinal fluid , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Blood-Brain Barrier/metabolism , Coma/cerebrospinal fluid , Coronavirus Infections/cerebrospinal fluid , Nervous System Diseases/cerebrospinal fluid , Pneumonia, Viral/cerebrospinal fluid , Stupor/cerebrospinal fluid , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Biomarkers/cerebrospinal fluid , COVID-19 , Coma/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Nervous System Diseases/diagnosis , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2 , Stupor/diagnosis , Treatment Outcome
Brain Behav Immun ; 93: 415-419, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-987109


BACKGROUND: COVID-19 intensive care patients can present with neurological syndromes, usually in the absence of SARS-CoV-2 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The recent finding of some virus-neutralizing antibodies cross-reacting with brain tissue suggests the possible involvement of specific autoimmunity. DESIGN: Blood and CSF samples from eleven critically ill COVID-19 patients presenting with unexplained neurological symptoms including myoclonus, oculomotor disturbance, delirium, dystonia and epileptic seizures, were analyzed for anti-neuronal and anti-glial autoantibodies. RESULTS: Using cell-based assays and indirect immunofluorescence on unfixed murine brain sections, all patients showed anti-neuronal autoantibodies in serum or CSF. Antigens included intracellular and neuronal surface proteins, such as Yo or NMDA receptor, but also various specific undetermined epitopes, reminiscent of the brain tissue binding observed with certain human monoclonal SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. These included vessel endothelium, astrocytic proteins and neuropil of basal ganglia, hippocampus or olfactory bulb. CONCLUSION: The high frequency of autoantibodies targeting the brain in the absence of other explanations suggests a causal relationship to clinical symptoms, in particular to hyperexcitability (myoclonus, seizures). Several underlying autoantigens and their potential molecular mimicry with SARS-CoV-2 still await identification. However, autoantibodies may already now explain some aspects of multi-organ disease in COVID-19 and can guide immunotherapy in selected cases.

Autoantibodies/cerebrospinal fluid , COVID-19/cerebrospinal fluid , Central Nervous System Diseases/virology , Aged , Autoantigens , Autoimmunity , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged