New research provides insight into Long COVID and ME

Researchers have uncovered how post-viral fatigue syndromes, including Long COVID, become life-changing diseases and why patients suffer frequent relapses.

Arising commonly from a viral infection, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), is known to cause brain-centred symptoms of neuroinflammation, loss of homeostasis, brain fog, lack of refreshing sleep, and poor response to even small stresses.

Long-COVID has similar effects on people and is believed to also be caused by neuroinflammation.

Lead author Emeritus Professor Warren Tate, of the University of Otago’s Department of Biochemistry, says how these debilitating brain effects develop is poorly understood.

In a study published in Frontiers in Neurology, he and colleagues from Otago, Victoria University of Wellington and University of Technology Sydney, developed a unifying model to explain how the brain-centred symptoms of these diseases are sustained through a brain-body connection.

They propose that, following an initial viral infection or stressor event, the subsequent systemic pathology moves to the brain vianeurovascular pathways or through a dysfunctional blood-brain barrier. This results in chronic neuroinflammation, leading to a sustained illness with chronic relapse recovery cycles.

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