Date of Award
Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences
Human Coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s and were found to be a cause of the common cold, inducing mild symptoms on those infected (Santacroce et al., 2020). However, due to adaptation and co-evolution, more dangerous variations of Coronaviruses emerged in the early 2000s, causing severe infection of the respiratory tract (Ye et al., 2020). Notably, the outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) were devastating, as these HCoVs could inflict respiratory disease that can be fatal (Wong et al., 2016). Most recently, the emergence of a new strain of Human Coronavirus has taken the world by storm. SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in December of 2019 in Wuhan, China, and is responsible for the current global outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID19 (Santacroce et al., 2020). The World Health Organization has declared SARS-CoV-2 as a worldwide public health threat due to its high rate of transmissibility, pathogenicity, morbidity, and mortality (Ye et al.,2020). As of May 20th, 2021, there has been a total of 35,855,010 confirmed cases and 584,975 deaths in the United States alone (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021).
The most notable and commonly known symptoms experienced by COVID-19 patients all pertain to respiratory complications, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, congestion, and fever (Mao and Jin, 2020). However, recently, there has been growing evidence that SARS-CoV-2 not only ambushes the respiratory system but also may invade the central nervous system (CNS) and give rise to neurological complications (Mao and Jin, 2020). Examples of neurological manifestations that have been documented thus far in COVID-19 patients include anosmia, ageusia, headache, stroke, impairment of consciousness, seizure, and encephalopathy (Zubair et al., 2020). Currently, scientists are most concerned with investigating the neuropathology of SARSCoV-2, along with both the acute phase and long-term neurological implications (Cheng et al., 2020). This capstone project is a literature review of Human Coronaviruses, specifically SARS-CoV-2, and the current exploration of its relationship with the nervous system. Additionally, this capstone will highlight the present hypotheses postulated by researchers regarding the neuroinvasive and neuroinflammatory events that may lead to short or long-term neurobehavioral consequences.
Wilgucki, Grace Anne, "SARS-CoV-2 infection’s link to Behavior: A Review of Coronaviruses and the Potential for SARS-CoV-2 to Damage the Brain’s Structure and Function" (2021). PCOM Capstone Projects. 23.