Background: Neurologic impairment persisting months after acute severe SARS-CoV-2 infection has been described because of several pathogenic mechanisms, including persistent systemic inflammation. The objective of this study is to analyze the selective involvement of the different cognitive domains, it impacts on quality of life and the possible existence of related biomarkers.
Methods: Cross-sectional study of patients who survived severe infection with SARS-CoV-2 consecutively recruited from 13 neurology services in Spain between 90 and 120 days after hospital discharge. All patients underwent an exhaustive study of cognitive functions as well as plasma determination of pro-inflammatory factors (chemokines), and neurotrophic factors and light-chain neurofilaments. A Principal Component Analysis extracted the main independent characteristics of the syndrome.
Results: 152 patients were recruited. The results of our study show a pattern of cognitive impairment with preferential involvement of episodic and working memory, executive functions, and attention and relatively less affectation of information processing speed, denomination, verbal fluency, and other cortical functions. In addition, psychiatric affectation such as anxiety and depression pictures are constant in our cohort. Several plasma chemokines concentrations were elevated compared with both, a non-SARS-Cov2 infected cohort of neurological outpatients or a control healthy general population, suggesting a pro-inflammatory chronic state derived of viral infection.
Conclusion: The neurologic Subacute Impairment in severe Covid-19 consist in an amnesic and dysexecutive syndrome with neuropsychiatric manifestations. We do not know if the deficits detected can persist in the long term and, in this case, if this can trigger or accelerate the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.