COVID Brain Fog: How Two Blood Biomarkers Could Be the Key

COVID brain fog
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A recent study in Nature Medicine reveals two blood biomarkers that could predict cognitive deficits six and 12 months post-COVID-19 diagnosis, including COVID brain fog. These findings, drawn from data from over 1,800 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, were verified in an independent dataset. They offer biological insights into the factors possibly underlying long-term cognitive impairment from COVID-19.

Cognitive deficits following COVID-19, often described as “COVID brain fog,” can severely impact daily life. Diagnosis combines objective (clinician-assessed) and subjective (patient-reported) elements. Yet, the development of these post-COVID-19 cognitive deficits remains a mystery.

Maxime Taquet and their team conducted a comprehensive analysis using data from 1,837 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the U.K. from January 29, 2020, to November 20, 2021. Blood samples were collected during admission. Both clinician-assessed and patient-reported cognition measurements were collected at six and 12 months post-admission.

Employing advanced statistical techniques, the researchers pinpointed two blood biomarker profiles strongly linked to post-acute COVID-19 cognitive impairments. The first profile revealed elevated fibrinogen levels, a blood coagulation-related protein, showing significant correlations with both objective and subjective cognitive deficits. Meanwhile, the second profile associated heightened d-dimer levels, another blood coagulation protein, with subjective cognitive deficits, including COVID brain fog, and also with symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath.

These results were substantially duplicated in an independent investigation involving the medical records of 17,911 U.S. patients. This included a comparison between post-pandemic and pre-pandemic groups, highlighting the distinctiveness of d-dimer concerning COVID-19, as proposed by the authors.

The authors posit that their discoveries may pave the way for the creation of predictive models for post-COVID-19 cognitive impairments, aiding in prognosis and treatment planning. Nevertheless, they underscore the necessity for additional research involving diverse cohorts to validate these findings.


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