Type I interferon signaling, cognition and neurodegeneration following COVID-19: update on a mechanistic pathogenetic model with implications for Alzheimer’s disease

George D. Vavougios, Vasilis Spyridon Tseriotis, Andreas Liampas, Theodore Mavridis, Gabriel A. de Erausquin, Georgios Hadjigeorgiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

COVID-19’s effects on the human brain reveal a multifactorial impact on cognition and the potential to inflict lasting neuronal damage. Type I interferon signaling, a pathway that represents our defense against pathogens, is primarily affected by COVID-19. Type I interferon signaling, however, is known to mediate cognitive dysfunction upon its dysregulation following synaptopathy, microgliosis and neuronal damage. In previous studies, we proposed a model of outside-in dysregulation of tonic IFN-I signaling in the brain following a COVID-19. This disruption would be mediated by the crosstalk between central and peripheral immunity, and could potentially establish feed-forward IFN-I dysregulation leading to neuroinflammation and potentially, neurodegeneration. We proposed that for the CNS, the second-order mediators would be intrinsic disease-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) such as proteopathic seeds, without the requirement of neuroinvasion to sustain inflammation. Selective vulnerability of neurogenesis sites to IFN-I dysregulation would then lead to clinical manifestations such as anosmia and cognitive impairment. Since the inception of our model at the beginning of the pandemic, a growing body of studies has provided further evidence for the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the human CNS and cognition. Several preclinical and clinical studies have displayed IFN-I dysregulation and tauopathy in gene expression and neuropathological data in new cases, correspondingly. Furthermore, neurodegeneration identified with a predilection for the extended olfactory network furthermore supports the neuroanatomical concept of our model, and its independence from fulminant neuroinvasion and encephalitis as a cause of CNS damage. In this perspective, we summarize the data on IFN-I as a plausible mechanism of cognitive impairment in this setting, and its potential contribution to Alzheimer’s disease and its interplay with COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1352118
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume18
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • COVID-19
  • cognitive impairment
  • drug repositioning
  • innate immunity
  • interferons
  • neurogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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