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Understanding the immune-endocrine effects of vitamin D in SARS-CoV-2 infection: a role in protecting against neurodamage?

Neuroimmunomodulation 2023 August 10
Calcitriol and hydroxyderivatives of lumisterol and tachisterol are secosteroid hormones with immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several studies have correlated deficient serum concentrations of vitamin D3 (calcifediol) with increased severity of the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among systemic complications, subjective (anosmia, ageusia, depression, dizziness) and objective (ischemic stroke, meningo-encephalitis, myelitis, seizures, Guillain-Barré syndrome) neurological symptoms have been reported in up to 80% of severe COVID-19 patients. In this narrative review we will resume the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the mechanisms of acute and chronic neurological damage. SARS-CoV-2 can disrupt the integrity of the endothelial cells of the blood-brain barrier to enter the nervous central system. Invasion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and polarization of astrocytes and microglia cells always in a pro-inflammatory sense together with the pro-coagulative phenotype of cerebral endothelial vessels in response to both SARS-CoV-2 and immune cells invasion (immunothrombosis) are the major drivers of neuro-damage. Calcitriol and hydroxyderivatives of lumisterol and tachisterol could play an adjuvant role in neuroprotection, through mitigation of neuroinflammation and protection of endothelial integrity of the blood-brain barrier. Dedicated studies on this topic are currently lacking and are desirable to confirm the link between vitamin D3 and neuroprotection in COVID-19 patients.

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