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The vagal autonomic pathway of COVID-19 at the cross-road of Alzheimer's Disease and aging: a review of knowledge

Abstract : Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic-triggered mortality is significantly higher in older than in younger populations worldwide. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is related to aging and was recently reported to be among the major risk factors for COVID-19 mortality in older people. The symptomatology of COVID-19 indicates that lethal outcomes of infection rely on neurogenic mechanisms. The present review compiles the available knowledge pointing to the convergence of COVID-19 complications with the mechanisms of autonomic dysfunctions in AD and aging. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is prone to neuroinvasion from the lung along the vagus nerve up to the brainstem autonomic nervous centers involved in the coupling of cardiovascular and respiratory rhythms. The brainstem autonomic network allows SARS-CoV-2 to trigger a neurogenic switch to hypertension and hypoventilation, which may act in synergy with aging- and AD-induced dysautonomias, along with an inflammatory “storm”. The lethal outcomes of COVID-19, like in AD and unhealthy aging, likely rely on a critical hypoactivity of the efferent vagus nerve cholinergic pathway, which is involved in lowering cardiovascular pressure and systemic inflammation tone. We further discuss the emerging evidence supporting the use of 1) the non-invasive stimulation of vagus nerve as an additional therapeutic approach for severe COVID-19, and 2) the demonstrated vagal tone index, i.e., heart rate variability, via smartphone-based applications as a non-serological low-cost diagnostic of COVID-19. These two well-known medical approaches are already available and now deserve large-scale testing on human cohorts in the context of both AD and COVID-19.
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https://hal.sorbonne-universite.fr/hal-03094308
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Submitted on : Monday, January 4, 2021 - 11:59:06 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 5:42:01 AM

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Claire-Marie Rangon, Slavica Krantic, Emmanuel Moyse, Bertrand Fougère. The vagal autonomic pathway of COVID-19 at the cross-road of Alzheimer's Disease and aging: a review of knowledge. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease Reports, IOS Press, 2020, 4 (1), pp.537-551. ⟨10.3233/ADR-200273⟩. ⟨hal-03094308⟩

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