Intrathecal inflammatory responses in the absence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid in the CSF of COVID-19 hospitalized patients.

Journal of the Neurological Sciences
Erica NormandinShibani S Mukerji


Little is known about CSF profiles in patients with acute COVID-19 infection and neurological symptoms. Here, CSF was tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and compared to controls and patients with known neurotropic pathogens. CSF from twenty-seven consecutive patients with COVID-19 and neurological symptoms was assayed for SARS-CoV-2 RNA using quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) and unbiased metagenomic sequencing. Assays for blood brain barrier (BBB) breakdown (CSF:serum albumin ratio (Q-Alb)), and proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines (IL-6, IL-8, IL-15, IL-16, monocyte chemoattractant protein -1 (MCP-1) and monocyte inhibitory protein - 1β (MIP-1β)) were performed in 23 patients and compared to CSF from patients with HIV-1 (16 virally suppressed, 5 unsuppressed), West Nile virus (WNV) (n = 4) and 16 healthy controls (HC). Median CSF cell count for COVID-19 patients was 1 white blood cell/μL; two patients were infected with a second pathogen (Neisseria, Cryptococcus neoformans). No CSF samples had detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA by either detection method. In patients with COVID-19 only, CSF IL-6, IL-8, IL-15, and MIP-1β levels were higher than HC and suppressed HIV (corrected-p < 0.0...Continue Reading

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