Neuropathies and neurological dysfunction induced by coronaviruses

Mina Gholami, Sepideh Safari, Luis Ulloa, Majid Motaghinejad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


During the recent years, viral epidemic due to coronaviruses, such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Middle East Respiratory Coronavirus Syndrome (MERS), and COVID-19 (coronavirus disese-19), has become a global problem. In addition to causing cardiovascular and respiratory lethal dysfunction, these viruses can cause neurodegeneration leading to neurological disorders. Review of the current scientific literature reveals the multiple neuropathies and neuronal dysfunction associated with these viruses. Here, we review the major findings of these studies and discuss the main neurological sequels and outcomes of coronavirus infections with SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. This article analyzes and discusses the main mechanisms of coronavirus-induced neurodegeneration according to the current experimental and clinical studies. Coronaviruses can damage the nerves directly through endovascular dysfunctions thereby affecting nerve structures and synaptic connections. Coronaviruses can also induce neural cell degeneration indirectly via mitochondrial dysfunction inducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis. Thus, coronaviruses can cause neurological disorders by inducing neurovascular dysfunction affecting nerve structures and synaptic connections, and by inducing inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. While some of these mechanisms are similar to other RNA viruses, the neurotoxic mechanisms of COVID-19, MERS, and SARS-CoV viruses are unknown and need detailed clinical and experimental studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-396
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


  • Coronavirus
  • Neurodegeneration


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