Objective: Attention, working memory and executive processing have been reported to be consistently impaired in Neuro-Long coronavirus disease (COVID). On the hypothesis of abnormal cortical excitability, we investigated the functional state of inhibitory and excitatory cortical regulatory circuits by single "paired-pulse" transcranial magnetic stimulation (ppTMS) and Short-latency Afferent Inhibition (SAI). Methods: We compared clinical and neurophysiological data of 18 Long COVID patients complaining of persistent cognitive impairment with 16 Healthy control (HC) subjects. Cognitive status was evaluated by means of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and a neuropsychological evaluation of the executive function domain; fatigue was scored by the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS). Resting motor threshold (RMT), the amplitude of the motor evoked potential (MEP), Short Intra-cortical Inhibition (SICI), Intra-cortical Facilitation (ICF), Long-interval Intracortical Inhibition (LICI) and Short-afferent inhibition (SAI) were investigated over the motor (M1) cortex. Results: MoCA corrected scores were significantly different between the two groups (p = 0.023). The majority of the patients' performed sub-optimally in the neuropsychological assessment of the executive functions. The majority (77.80%) of the patients reported high levels of perceived fatigue in the FSS. RMT, MEPs, SICI and SAI were not significantly different between the two groups. On the other hand, Long COVID patients showed a reduced amount of inhibition in LICI (p = 0.003) and a significant reduction in ICF (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Neuro-Long COVID patients performing sub-optimally in the executive functions showed a reduction of LICI related to GABAb inhibition and a reduction of ICF related to glutamatergic regulation. No alteration in cholinergic circuits was found. Significance: These findings can help to better understand the neurophysiological characteristics of Neuro-Long COVID, and in particular, motor cortex regulation in people with "brain fog".

Deficient GABABergic and glutamatergic excitability in the motor cortex of patients with long-COVID and cognitive impairment

Manganotti, Paolo
;
Michelutti, Marco;Deodato, Manuela;Buoite Stella, Alex
2023-01-01

Abstract

Objective: Attention, working memory and executive processing have been reported to be consistently impaired in Neuro-Long coronavirus disease (COVID). On the hypothesis of abnormal cortical excitability, we investigated the functional state of inhibitory and excitatory cortical regulatory circuits by single "paired-pulse" transcranial magnetic stimulation (ppTMS) and Short-latency Afferent Inhibition (SAI). Methods: We compared clinical and neurophysiological data of 18 Long COVID patients complaining of persistent cognitive impairment with 16 Healthy control (HC) subjects. Cognitive status was evaluated by means of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and a neuropsychological evaluation of the executive function domain; fatigue was scored by the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS). Resting motor threshold (RMT), the amplitude of the motor evoked potential (MEP), Short Intra-cortical Inhibition (SICI), Intra-cortical Facilitation (ICF), Long-interval Intracortical Inhibition (LICI) and Short-afferent inhibition (SAI) were investigated over the motor (M1) cortex. Results: MoCA corrected scores were significantly different between the two groups (p = 0.023). The majority of the patients' performed sub-optimally in the neuropsychological assessment of the executive functions. The majority (77.80%) of the patients reported high levels of perceived fatigue in the FSS. RMT, MEPs, SICI and SAI were not significantly different between the two groups. On the other hand, Long COVID patients showed a reduced amount of inhibition in LICI (p = 0.003) and a significant reduction in ICF (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Neuro-Long COVID patients performing sub-optimally in the executive functions showed a reduction of LICI related to GABAb inhibition and a reduction of ICF related to glutamatergic regulation. No alteration in cholinergic circuits was found. Significance: These findings can help to better understand the neurophysiological characteristics of Neuro-Long COVID, and in particular, motor cortex regulation in people with "brain fog".
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3049118
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