New Research Shows COVID-19 Alters Gray Matter Volume in the Brain - SciTechDaily
May 12, 2021 2 mins, 4 secs

Covid-19 patients who receive oxygen therapy or experience fever show reduced gray matter volume in the frontal-temporal network of the brain, according to a new study led by researchers at Georgia State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The study found lower gray matter volume in this brain region was associated with a higher level of disability among Covid-19 patients, even six months after hospital discharge.

Gray matter is vital for processing information in the brain and gray matter abnormality may affect how well neurons function and communicate.

The study, published in the May 2021 issue of Neurobiology of Stress, indicates gray matter in the frontal network could represent a core region for brain involvement in Covid-19, even beyond damage related to clinical manifestations of the disease, such as stroke.

Researchers Kuaikuai Duan and Vince Calhoun have found that neurological complications of Covid-19 patients may be linked to lower gray matter volume in the front region of the brain even six months after hospital discharge.

The analysis showed patients with higher levels of disability had lower gray matter volume in the superior, medial and middle frontal gyri at discharge and six months later, even when controlling for cerebrovascular diseases.

Gray matter volume in this region was also significantly reduced in patients receiving oxygen therapy compared to patients not receiving oxygen therapy.

Patients with fever had a significant reduction in gray matter volume in the inferior and middle temporal gyri and the fusiform gyrus compared to patients without fever.

Reduced gray matter in the superior, medial, and middle frontal gyri was also present in patients with agitation compared to patients without agitation.

This implies that gray matter changes in the frontal region of the brain may underlie the mood disturbances commonly exhibited by Covid-19 patients.

“A reduction of gray matter has also been shown to be present in other mood disorders such as schizophrenia and is likely related to the way that gray matter influences neuron function.”.

Next, the researchers hope to replicate the study on a larger sample size that includes many types of brain scans and different populations of Covid-19 patients.

Reference: “Alterations of frontal-temporal gray matter volume associate with clinical measures of older adults with COVID-19” by Kuaikuai Duan, Enrico Premi, Andrea Pilotto, Viviana Cristillo, Alberto Benussi, Ilenia Libri, Marcello Giunta, H.

TReNDS is a partnership among Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Emory University and is focused on improving our understanding of the human brain using advanced analytic approaches.

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