The CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata, claimed that coronavirus virus may infect respiratory centre of the brain and called for focussing on the respiratory centre of the central nervous system to search for mortality due to the deadly virus.
The researchers at the institute came out with a paper in this regard. They pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 virus might enter the human brain through the nose and reach the olfactory bulb of the brain. They would then infect PreBötzinger complex (PBC), the primary center of the brain that controls the respiratory rhythm generation, the paper said. This explains that collapse of the respiratory center in the brain may be responsible for breakdown of COVID-19 patients, they added.
This is the first report that highlights the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on the PBC of the brainstem that controls respiration and causes respiratory collapse of the patients.
The researchers noted that cerebrospinal fluid of COVID-19 patients and brain of deceased patients should be assessed to better understand the route of SARS-CoV-2 entry and its spread to respiratory centre of brain.
PreBötzinger complex functions as the primary respiratory oscillator and is proposed as a centre of respiration. It has been earlier shown that disruption of PBC causes lethality due to respiratory failure, suggesting its central role in respiratory rhythm generation. It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 may shut down respiratory centre, and in turn breathing by infecting and destroying the PBC of the brainstem. The scientists also pointed out a recent study by a group of researchers at King’s College London, UK, who highlighted loss of smell as one of main symptoms of coronavirus patients. This was a hint at the involvement of the same route through which SARS-CoV-2 may enter the brain.