Investigating the impact of COVID-19 on Parkinson's disease

Project: DFG ProjectsDFG Individual Projects

Project Details


Neuropathology of COVID-19 is characterized by a peculiar neuroimmunological activation with astro/microgliosis and increased inflammatory signaling. SARS-CoV-2 has an affinity for the basal ganglia/brainstem and has been shown to affect the nervous system, causing neurological symptoms. Although there have been single case reports of COVID-19 patients having developed parkinsonism within weeks of contracting the virus, there is currently only speculative evidence for a link between COVID-19 and PD. Since this potential link will only become obvious in the coming years or decades, it is pertinent to investigate if and how COVID-19 impacts PD. We hypothesize that studying brains of COVID-19 patients, COVID-19 patients with concomitant PD as compared to PD patients and controls will inform us on a potential link and will unravel pathways active in COVID-19-modulated PD with biomarker relevance. We hypothesize that neuroimmunological activation in COVID-19 lead to accelerated neurodegeneration. This proposal aims to compare the neuropathology and perturbed biological pathways of PD patients and controls with and without COVID-19 to understand these mechanisms. Specifically, we will investigate 1) neuroimmune activation and protein folding/deposition and clearance pathways across different regions of the brain (cortex, striatum, substantia nigra, cerebellum) and 2) differentially expressed genes in frontal cortex and midbrain of the above-mentioned groups by 2a) global RNA transcriptomics and 2b) single-cell RNA sequencing to map disease-specific patterns on a single-cell level. Lastly, we will 3) integrate all targeted and global approaches to identify biological pathways active in COVID-19/PD and COVID-19 and assess biomarker potential of obtained marker profiles in living PD patients post COVID-19 to predict PD outcome. By thoroughly exploring whether there is a relationship between COVID-19 and PD, this proposal will inform us on the risk SARS-CoV-2 infections pose the development or worsening of.
Effective start/end date01.01.2231.12.26

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)
  • Research Area: Medical Genetics

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 206-06 Molecular and Cellular Neurology and Neuropathology

Research on Coronavirus/Covid-19

  • Research on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19


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