Early evidence of pronounced brain involvement in fatal COVID-19 outcomes

Bottom Line:

Through possible mechanisms of viral infiltration, immune response, and hypercoagulability, COVID-19 appears to cause encephalitis and meningitis in a small sample of autopsied patients.


Hann von Weyhern, C. et al. Early evidence of pronounced brain involvement in fatal COVID-19 outcomes. The Lancet (2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31282-4.

Date Published:

4 June 2020


The researchers studied six autopsied patients who died from COVID-19. Although the cause of death varied between older and younger patients, the six patients they studied all exhibited signs of pan-encephalitis and meningitis. The researchers speculate a possible mechanism for this infection may be through the olfactory nerve, trigeminal nerve, and brainstem nuclei, as they noticed neuronal cell loss and axon degeneration in these areas (supported by animal model research).

Summary by: Mike Ge