Possible Role of Endocannabinoids in Olfactory and Taste Dysfunctions in COVID-19 Patients and Volumetric Changes in the Brain


Introduction COVID-19 infection develops neurologic symptoms such as smell and taste loss. We aimed to determine the volumetric changes in the brain and correlation of possible related biochemical parameters and endocannabinoid levels after COVID-19 recovery. Methods Brain magnetic resonance images of recovered COVID-19 patients and healthy volunteers, whose olfactory and gustatory scores were obtained through a questionnaire, were taken, and the volumes of the brain regions associated with taste and smell were measured by automatic and semiautomatic methods. Endocannabinoids (EC), which are critical in the olfactory system, and vitamin B12, zinc, iron, ferritin, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and thyroxine (T4) levels, which are reported to have possible roles in olfactory disorders, were measured in peripheral blood. Results Taste and smell disorder scores and EC levels were found to be higher in recovered COVID-19 patients compared to controls. EC levels were negatively correlated with bilateral entorhinal cortex (ENT) volumes in the COVID-19 group. Subgenual anterior cingulate cortex volumes showed correlations with gustatory complaints and ferritin in recovered COVID 19 patients. Conclusions The critical fnding of our study is the high EC levels and negative correlation between EC levels and left ENT volumes in recovered COVID-19 patients. Implications It is possible that ECs are potential neuromodulators in many conditions leading to olfactory disorders, includ ing COVID-19.


Anahtar Kelimeler

COVID-19, Anosmia, Ageusia, Endocannabinoids, Voxel-based morphometry


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