Huntington's Disease, Grey matter and Covid-19
Huntington's Disease patients, as well as their families continue to wait. They wait for a cure, but, they also happen to be realistic, so any mention of a therapy that prolongs onset or slows progression of this terrible disease is something that makes them stop and listen, hoping for any news that allows them some kind of hope.
Cognitive issues often take form long before chorea. Those of us that actually live in families that have loved ones with HD are all too aware of this. But why?
A study, completed in 2020, entitled “Structural brain correlates of dementia in Huntington’s disease", links cognitive impairment to reduced grey matter volume. An article in Huntington's Disease News says:
"A hallmark of Huntington’s disease is the progressive atrophy (shrinkage) in the region of the brain known as the basal ganglia, which is responsible for movement coordination. That shrinkage can be detected up to 15 years before the appearance of motor symptoms.
Recent evidence suggests that Huntington’s also leads to reductions in whole brain volume as well as gray matter volume and thinning of the cortex, the outer layer of the brain that controls thought, behavior and memory. Of note, gray matter is a component of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) consisting of neuronal cell bodies, glial cells and capillaries, among other structures."
While many people with HD would accept a drug therapy to combat brain shrinkage they may be hesitant to accept a vaccine that may prevent one from catching Covid-19.
According to a recent article from Reuters, an Oxford University study found,
"COVID-19 can cause the brain to shrink, reduce grey matter in the regions that control emotion and memory, and damage areas that control the sense of smell."
The researchers stated,
"There is strong evidence for brain-related abnormalities in COVID-19." And, even in mild cases, participants in the research showed "a worsening of executive function" responsible for focus and organizing, and on an average brain sizes shrank between 0.2% and 2%.
Studies have found some people who had COVID suffered from "brain fog" or mental cloudiness that included impairment to attention, concentration, speed of information processing and memory.
The researchers did not say if vaccination against COVID had any impact on the condition but the UK Health Security Agency said last month that a review of 15 studies found that vaccinated people were about half as likely to develop symptoms of long COVID compared with the unvaccinated.
In a February, 2021 HDBuzz Report concerning Covid-19 vaccines, they say:
Our strong opinion is that anyone who is eligible for the vaccine should get it, including HD patients.