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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: March 09, 2022

Recent advances in long-COVID research

Some people who contract COVID-19 suffer from lingering symptoms, such as loss of smell or brain fog, weeks or months after recovery. Below are some recent papers published in ACS journals that report research and hypotheses on the causes of and potential treatments for long-COVID. Reporters can request free access to these papers by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

“Pathways and Pathogenesis of Hearing Deficits, Tinnitus, and Vertigo in COVID-19”
ACS Chemical Neuroscience
Nov. 15, 2021
COVID-19 affects multiple organs of the body, including the ears, with hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo reported by some patients that can persist for months after a SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis. This viewpoint article discusses how the virus could cause an inflammatory response or direct damage in ear tissues, leading to temporary or permanent hearing- and equilibrium-related symptoms.

“Mechanism of Anosmia Caused by Symptoms of COVID-19 and Emerging Treatments”
ACS Chemical Neuroscience
Oct. 5, 2021
Although most people who experience anosmia –– or loss of smell — with COVID-19 have partial or full recovery within a short period, some report long-term anosmia of more than 30 days. This review describes ways the SARS-CoV-2 virus might cause olfactory dysfunction, as well as possible treatments for long-term anosmia, including smelling exercises, corticosteroids and tissue engineering.

“Incomplete Systemic Recovery and Metabolic Phenoreversion in Post-Acute-Phase Nonhospitalized COVID-19 Patients: Implications for Assessment of Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome”
Journal of Proteome Research
May 19, 2021
Because tens of millions of people are likely to be affected by post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS, or long-COVID), it’s important to find metabolic markers of the disorder to prepare for future medical and economic burdens, the researchers say. They used metabolic phenotyping of blood from non-hospitalized patients 3 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection to show that, although most metabolites returned to normal levels after COVID-19 recovery, some (such as plasma taurine and the glutamine/glutamate ratio) remained abnormal. The long-term clinical significance of these findings warrants further investigation, the researchers say.

“Persistent Brainstem Dysfunction in Long-COVID: A Hypothesis”
ACS Chemical Neuroscience
Feb. 4, 2021
Many survivors of COVID-19, even those with mild illness, experience symptoms such as fatigue, headache, cognitive impairments, joint and chest pains, and smell and taste dysfunctions that last for 1-6 months. Common explanations are tissue damage, viral persistence and chronic inflammation, but this review proposes another possible cause of long-COVID: injuries to neurons in the brainstem –– the stalk-like part of the brain that connects the brain to the spinal cord.

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