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A vaccine against COVID-19 has been found to protect against infections and brain damage caused by the virus

A vaccine against COVID-19 has been found to protect against infections and brain damage caused by the virus

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Summary: A new COVID-19 vaccine developed by CNB-CSIC researchers appears to protect against brain infection and neurological symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

source: University of Seville

Although respiratory system pathology is the primary impact of COVID-19, many patients also exhibit important neurological symptoms, such as loss of smell (anosmia), headache, malaise, cognitive impairment, epilepsy, ataxia, and encephalopathy, among others.

However, this effect on the nervous system of the coronavirus has not been described in detail, and it is not known whether the vaccines developed against COVID-19 prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the central nervous system and provide protection against brain damage.

Now, using a mouse model susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection, a multidisciplinary team of Spanish researchers led by Dr. Javier Villadiego and Dr. Juan José Toledo-Aral (IBiS, CIBERNED and the Department of Medical Physiology and Biophysics of the Faculty of Medicine of Seville) and Juan García-Ariaza (Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology of CNB-CSIC, CIBERINFEC and PTI Global Health of CSIC), in collaboration with other groups from the University of Seville and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC ), demonstrate the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to infect different areas of the brain and cause brain damage, and how the CNB-CSIC vaccine completely protects against brain infection.

These findings are published in Nature Neurology.

The researchers studied the evolution of viral infection in different areas of the brain, noting that viral replication occurs mainly in neurons, causing neuropathological changes such as neuronal loss, glial activation and vascular damage.

“We performed a very detailed anatomical-pathological and molecular study of the brain regions and cell types that were infected by the virus. It is remarkable how the virus infects different areas and mainly neurons,” explains Javier Villadiego.

After the SARS-CoV-2 brain infection model was established, the researchers evaluated the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed at CNB-CSIC. To do this, they immunized mice with one or two doses of the MVA-CoV2-S vaccine, based on the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2, and analyzed the ability to protect against infection and brain damage.

“The results obtained were impressive, demonstrating that even the administration of a single dose of the MVA-CoV2-S vaccine completely prevented SARS-CoV-2 infection in all brain regions examined and prevented associated brain damage, even after re-infection with the virus . This demonstrates the great efficacy and immunogenic power of the vaccine, which induces sterilizing immunity in the brain,” says Juan García-Ariaza.

The researchers studied the evolution of viral infection in different areas of the brain, noting that viral replication occurs mainly in neurons, causing neuropathological changes such as neuronal loss, glial activation and vascular damage. Image is in the public domain

These results reinforce previous data on the immunogenicity and efficacy of the MVA-CoV2-S vaccine in various animal models.

“We previously showed in a series of publications that the MVA-CoV2-S vaccine we developed at CNB-CSIC induced in three animal models (mouse, hamster and macaque) a potent immune response to antibodies binding to the S protein of the virus and neutralizing antibodies against different dangerous variants of the virus, as well as T-lymphocyte activation, key markers for infection control,” says Mariano Esteban, a CNB-CSIC researcher involved in the study.

The results have important long-term implications for understanding the infection caused by SARS-CoV-2. “The data we obtained on SARS-CoV-2 infection in the brain are compatible with the neurological pathology observed in patients with COVID-19,” says José López-Barneo, an IBiS researcher who participated in the publication.

“Our work is the first study of a vaccine that is 100% effective against brain damage caused by SARS-CoV-2 in a susceptible mouse, and the results obtained strongly suggest that the vaccine can prevent persistent COVID-19 seen in a few infected people with SARS-CoV-2,” says Juan José Toledo-Aral.

“The data provided in this study with MVA-CoV2-S vaccine-mediated complete inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 replication in the brain together with previous studies published by the group and collaborators on the immunogenicity and efficacy of the vaccine against different variants of SARS-CoV-2, support phase I clinical trials with such a vaccine or similar prototypes to evaluate their safety and immunogenicity,” the authors of the study emphasize.

About this news about COVID-19 research

Author: Press office
source: University of Seville
Contact: Press Office – University of Seville
Image: Image is in the public domain

See also

A vaccine against COVID-19 has been found to protect against infections and brain damage caused by the virus

Original research: Free access.
Complete protection against SARS-CoV-2 brain infection and damage in susceptible transgenic mice conferred by vaccine candidate MVA-CoV2-S” by Javier Villadiego et al. Nature Neurology


Summary

Complete protection against SARS-CoV-2 brain infection and damage in susceptible transgenic mice conferred by vaccine candidate MVA-CoV2-S

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been shown to be safe and effective, but their protective efficacy against infection in the brain is still unclear.

Here, in a susceptible transgenic K18-hACE2 mouse model of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we report a spatiotemporal description of SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication through the brain. Brain replication of SARS-CoV-2 occurs primarily in neurons, leading to neuronal loss, signs of glial activation, and vascular damage in mice infected with SARS-CoV-2.

One or two doses of a modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vector expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein (MVA-CoV2-S) confers complete protection against SARS-CoV-2 cerebral infection by preventing viral replication in all areas of the brain and associated impairments. This protection is maintained even after re-infection with SARS-CoV-2.

These findings further support the use of MVA-CoV2-S as a promising SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccine candidate.


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