The impact of a SARS-CoV-2 infection on brain pathology and vice versa.

01 November 2023 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Inflammation
    • Infectious diseases
    • Virology
    • Cognitive neuroscience
    • Pathophysiology
Alzheimer's disease severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Long COVID
Project description

Recent reports highlight the increasing number of patients who recovered from the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection but suffer from a prolonged or late-onset sequela, which are referred to as ‘long-COVID’ syndrome. The most frequent manifestations of ‘long-COVID’ encompass fatigue, ‘brain fog’, headache and cognitive impairment, suggesting the involvement of the central nervous system. In addition, patient data support the idea that SARS-CoV-2 infection may increase the risk to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The fact that more than 750 million cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections are reported worldwide and that a significant number of patients report neurological symptoms stresses the need for further research. In my PhD project, I aim to investigate the effect of a SARS-CoV-2 infection on a healthy and AD brain using appropriate mouse models. Next, if adverse effects are observed, the potential protective capacity of a SARS-CoV-2 antiviral therapy on infection-induced neurological symptoms will be investigated. Finally, I will also take a closer look at the effect of ongoing AD pathology on COVID-19 severity to determine whether AD pathology makes the mice more susceptible to severe disease outcomes. Altogether, a better understanding on how a SARS-CoV-2 infection has an impact on the healthy and AD brain and vice versa, will help to better address the potential long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.