Significant Loss of Brain Grey Matter after COVID-19

In summary, a study found significant effects of COVID-19 in the brain, specifically a loss of grey matter in the left parahippocampal gyrus, the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and the left insula. These findings were also seen in the anterior cingulate cortex, supramarginal gyrus, and temporal pole when looking at the entire cortical surface. However, there may be concerns about the validity of these results due to the potential for false positives and small effect sizes.
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Tom.G
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TL;DR Summary
Brain imaging Before and After COVID-19 shows loss of brain grey matter after COVID-19
We identified significant effects of COVID-19 in the brain with a loss of grey matter in the left parahippocampal gyrus, the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the left insula. When looking over the entire cortical surface, these results extended to the anterior cingulate cortex, supramarginal gyrus and temporal pole.
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.11.21258690v1
doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.11.21258690

Full PDF (32 pages) at:
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.11.21258690v1.full.pdf
 
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After a quickly browsing the paper, I'm somewhat skeptical of the results of the study. The study did comparisons of ~2,000 features from their brain imaging between the two groups, which gives plenty of opportunities to find false positives (potentially an example of p-hacking). Furthermore, the statistically significant differences the paper finds seem quite small compared to normal variation. For example, here are some of the most significant longitudinal group comparison results from Fig 1 of the paper:
1624121378010.png

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.11.21258690v1.full.pdf

While these results may be statistically significant differences (at least, assuming they corrected for multiple comparison correction correctly), it's not clear whether these observed differences would be biologically meaningful (i.e. whether the differences are large enough to cause clinically relevant symptoms).
 
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1. What is brain grey matter?

Brain grey matter is a type of brain tissue that contains the cell bodies of neurons and is responsible for processing information and controlling movement.

2. How does COVID-19 affect brain grey matter?

COVID-19 has been shown to cause inflammation and damage to the brain, which can lead to a significant loss of grey matter. This can result in cognitive impairments and neurological symptoms.

3. Who is at risk for significant loss of brain grey matter after COVID-19?

Individuals who have had severe cases of COVID-19, particularly those who have experienced respiratory failure or required ICU treatment, are at a higher risk for significant loss of brain grey matter.

4. Can the loss of brain grey matter be reversed?

It is currently unknown if the loss of brain grey matter after COVID-19 can be fully reversed. However, studies have shown that the brain has the ability to regenerate and reorganize, so there is potential for some recovery.

5. What can be done to prevent significant loss of brain grey matter after COVID-19?

The best way to prevent significant loss of brain grey matter after COVID-19 is to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus. This includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and following proper hygiene measures. It is also important to seek medical treatment if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19 to prevent the virus from causing further damage to the brain.

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