According to a new study led by researchers at Georgia State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, COVID-19 patients experiencing fever show reduced gray matter volume in the brain’s frontal-temporal network .
The study found that a lower volume of gray matter in this brain region was associated with a higher level of disability among COVID-19 patients, even six months after hospital discharge.
The researchers, who are affiliated with the Center for Translational Research in Neuroimaging and Data Science (TReNDS), analyzed CT scans in 120 neurological patients, including 58 with acute COVID-19 and 62 without COVID-19 , matched for age, gender and disease. . This used a source-based morphometric analysis, which increases the statistical power of studies with a moderate sample size such as this one.
The analysis showed that patients with higher levels of disability had less gray matter volume in the upper and middle frontal gyri even when controlling for cerebrovascular diseases. The gray matter volume in this region was also significantly reduced in patients who received oxygen therapy compared to patients who did not receive oxygen therapy. Patients with fever had a significant reduction in gray matter volume in the inferior and middle temporal gyrus and fusiform gyrus compared to patients without fever.
The results suggest that COVID-19 can affect the frontal-temporal network through fever or lack of oxygen . The study findings also demonstrate that changes in the frontal-temporal network could be used as a biomarker to determine the likely prognosis of COVID-19 or evaluate treatment options for the disease.
Gray matter is vital for processing information in the brain, and gray matter abnormality can affect the functioning and communication of neurons.