For the past three months we have been publishing Monthly-Must Reads related to scientific applications. Our January edition was concerned with Axons, in February we provided five articles related to Retina and last month we highlighted Organoids.

In the April edition we highlight a topic that is currently impacting all of us: COVID-19. To underline the impact and provide a more detailed explanation, and link between COVID-19 and other viruses and neurons, we have decided to pick five articles related to the link between neurons and viruses. The selected papers can be found below and relate to viruses such as the coronavirus but also others such as the Zika virus or the Cytomegalovirus.

In the subsequent section you can find the highlighted paper and four related groundbreaking articles. For this month we decided to highlight the article Yan‐Chao Li t al. concerning the impact of the novel SARS-CoV2 can have on the central nervous system!

The neuroinvasive potential of SARS‐CoV2 may play a role in the respiratory failure of COVID‐19 patients.
by Yan-Chao Li, Wan-Zhu Bai and Tsutomu Hashikawa. Journal of Medical Virology. February 2020.

SARS-CoV-2 emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan (China) and, as of today, caused a pandemic with more than 100’000 deaths. Scientists are currently investigating whether SARS-CoV-2 behaves like SARS-CoV-1 and therefore might infect the neurons in the brain. The SARS-CoV-1 from early 2000s was shown to rapidly spread to brain areas including thalamus and brainstem. According to the 2020 review article from Li et al.published in the Journal of Medical Virology “Some patients with COVID-19 also showed neurologic signs, such as headache, nausea, and vomiting. Increasing evidence shows that coronaviruses are not always confined to the respiratory tract and that they may also invade the central nervous system inducing neurological diseases”. Furthermore, Covid-19 causes anosmia (loss of the sense of smell) and a subsequent brain infection which originates in olfactory neurons should be considered. Additional experimental evidences are needed to understand the potential neurotropism of SARS-CoV-2 and its ability to infect neurons. Finally, microelectrode array (MEA) technology enable to assess neuron function and viability in response to viral infection, in vitro, as shown in the article featured in April MMM.

Read the paper here. More information can be found in C&EN, YahooNews and The Scientist.

Besides the above-mentioned paper, four other publications that combine the topics of neurons and viruses are found below:

  1. Zika virus-induced hyper excitation precedes death of mouse primary neuron.
    by Julie Gaburro, Asim Bhatti, Vinod Sundaramoorthy, Megan Dearnley, Diane Green, Saeid Nahavandi,Prasad N. Paradkar and Jean-Bernard Duchemin. Virology Journal. April 2019.
    Read the paper here.
  2. Network analysis of hippocampal neurons by microelectrode array in the presence of HIV-1 Tat and cocaine.
    by Taha Mohseni Ahooyi, Masoud Shekarabi, Emilie A. Decoppet, Dianne Langford, Kamel Khalili and Jennifer Gordon. Journal of Cellular Physiology. June 2018.
    Read the paper here.
  3. Modeling Human Cytomegalovirus-Induced Microcephaly in Human iPSC-Derived Brain Organoids.
    by Guoqiang Sun, Flavia Chiuppesi, Xianwei Chen, Cheng Wang, E Tian, Jenny Nguyen, Mindy Kha, Daniel Trinh,Hannah Zhang, Maria C. Marchetto, Hongjun Song, Guo-Li Ming, Fred H. Gage, Don J. Diamond, Felix Wussow and Yanhong Shi. Cell Reports Medicine. March 2020.
    Read the paper here.  Related news article can be found in MedicalXPress and on the City of Hope website!
  4. SARS-CoV-2: Olfaction, Brain Infection, and the Urgent Need for Clinical Samples Allowing Earlier Virus Detection.
    by Rafal Butowt and Katarzyna Bilinska. ACS Chemical Neuroscience. April 2020.
    Read the paper here.