Study Identifies How COVID-19 Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease-like Cognitive Impairment

A new Cleveland Clinic-led study has identified mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. The findings, published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, indicate an overlap between COVID-19 and brain changes common in Alzheimer’s, and may help inform risk management and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.

Reports of neurological complications in COVID-19 patients and “long-hauler” patients whose symptoms persist after the infection clears are becoming more common, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) may have lasting effects on brain function. However, it is not yet well understood how the virus leads to neurological issues.

“While some studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infects brain cells directly, others found no evidence of the virus in the brain,” says Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., assistant staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and lead author on the study. “Identifying how COVID-19 and neurological problems are linked will be critical for developing effective preventive and therapeutic strategies to address the surge in neurocognitive impairments that we expect to see in the near future.”

In the study, the researchers harnessed artificial intelligence using existing datasets of patients with Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. They measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and those associated with several neurological diseases where closer proximity suggests related or shared disease pathways. The researchers also analyzed the genetic factors that enabled SARS-COV-2 to infect brain tissues and cells.

While researchers found little evidence that the virus targets the brain directly, they discovered close network relationships between the virus and genes/proteins associated with several neurological diseases, most notably Alzheimer’s, pointing to pathways by which COVID-19 could lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. To explore this further, they investigated potential associations between COVID-19 and neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which are both hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

“We discovered that SARS-CoV-2 infection significantly altered Alzheimer’s markers implicated in brain inflammation and that certain viral entry factors are highly expressed in cells in the blood-brain barrier,” explained Dr. Cheng. “These findings indicate that the virus may impact several genes or pathways involved in neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which could lead to Alzehimer’s disease-like cognitive impairment.”

The researchers also found that individuals with the allele APOE E4/E4, the greatest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, had decreased expression of antiviral defense genes, which could make these patients more susceptible to COVID-19.

“Ultimately, we hope to have paved the way for research that leads to testable and measurable biomarkers that can identify patients at the highest risk for neurological complications with COVID-19,” said Dr. Cheng.

Dr. Cheng and his team are now working to identify actionable biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for COVID-19-associated neurological issues in COVID long-haulers using cutting-edge network medicine and artificial intelligence technologies.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

In Pictures: Kazari Maki Sushi (飾り巻き寿司)

A Fruitful Approach to Preventing Diabetes

Want to lower your risk of diabetes? Eat plenty of fruit.

An Australian study suggests that two servings a day could lower the odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 36%.

“A healthy diet and lifestyle, which includes the consumption of whole fruits, is a great strategy to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Nicola Bondonno of the Institute for Nutrition Research at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Australia.

Her team analyzed data from nearly 7,700 Australians in order to assess the link between consumption of fruit and fruit juice with diabetes cases over five years.

People who ate at least two servings of fruit a day had higher measures of insulin sensitivity than those who ate less than half a serving a day, according to the findings. Insulin sensitivity is key to the body’s ability to use glucose for energy to perform bodily functions and store it for future use.

“We found an association between fruit intake and markers of insulin sensitivity, suggesting that people who consumed more fruit had to produce less insulin to lower their blood glucose levels,” Bondonno said in a university news release. “This is important because high levels of circulating insulin [hyperinsulinemia] can damage blood vessels and are related not only to diabetes, but also to high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.”

But the researchers noted: Drinking fruit juice did not boost insulin sensitivity or reduce diabetes risk. Bondonno said that’s probably because juice tends to be much higher in sugar and lower in fiber.

She said it’s unclear how fruit contributes to insulin sensitivity, but there are probably several explanations.

“As well as being high in vitamins and minerals, fruits are a great source of phytochemicals, which may increase insulin sensitivity, and fiber which helps regulate the release of sugar into the blood and also helps people feel fuller for longer,” Bondonno said.

She noted that most fruits typically have a low glycemic index, meaning that their sugar is digested and absorbed into the body more slowly.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

More than 450 million people worldwide have type 2 diabetes, and another 374 million are at increased risk for the disease.

Source: HealthDay

Hake and Clams with Salsa Verde

Ingredients

4 hake steaks, about 3/4-inch thick
1/2 cup flour for dusting, plus 2 tablespoons
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2/3 cup fish stock
2/3 cup white wine
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 ounces frozen petits pois
16 fresh clams
salt and ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then dust both sides with flour.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan, add the fish and fry for about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with lemon juice.
  4. Clean the pan, then heat the remaining oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Stir in
    2 tablespoons flour and cook for about 1 minute. Gradually add the stock and wine, stirring until thickened and smooth. Add 5 tablespoons of the parsley and the petits pois and season with salt and pepper.

  5. Pour the sauce over the fish and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, adding the clams to the dish 3-4 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  6. Discard any clams that do not open, then sprinkle with the remaining parsley before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Healthy Mediterranean Cookbook


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