Why in news?
Scientists of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur have explored the neuroinvasive nature of the COVID 19 virus SARS-CoV-2 highlighting that loss of smell and taste of infected patients makes their entire Central Nervous System (CNS) and the underlying structures in the brain more prone to viral infection with devastating effects.
Details of how COVID-19 Might affect our CNS
- SARS-CoV-2 is known to interact with a specific human receptor known as hACE2 (human angiotensin-converting enzyme-2) which also happens to be the entry point of the virus and has an almost ubiquitous presence in most human organs ranging from lung parenchyma to nasal mucosa. The brain is also known to express this receptor.
- The loss of smell or taste is attributed to the fact that nose and mouth both are very important entry points of the virus, which then may be slowly making its way to the olfactory bulb using the neurons of the olfactory mucosa.
- The olfactory bulb located in the forebrain is the structure that is chiefly responsible for the sense of smell. This explains the loss of smell associated with many asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 and also may be exposing the CNS to viral infection.
- It may also completely destroy the medulla oblongata of the hindbrain, which regulates breathing, heart, and blood vessel function.
Significance of this research:
The asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 with anosmia (loss of smell) and ageusia (loss of taste) should be told to consult specialized nephrologists before they turn into carriers.
It will help with the future rational approaches for therapy. The neuro-invasive nature of the virus and its effects on the senses of smell and taste are thus interesting and useful areas of investigation