Prion‘ is a term used to describe a protein infectious particle responsible for several neurodegenerative diseases in mammals, e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The novelty is that it is protein based infectious agent not involving a nucleic acid genome as found in viruses and bacteria. Prion disorders exhibit, in part, incubation periods, neuronal loss, and induce abnormal folding of specific normal cellular proteins due to enhancing reactive oxygen species associated with mitochondria energy metabolism. These agents may also induce memory, personality and movement abnormalities as well as depression, confusion and disorientation. Interestingly, some of these behavioral changes also occur in COVID-19 and mechanistically include mitochondrial damage caused by SARS-CoV-2 and subsequenct production of reactive oxygen species. Taken together, we surmise, in part, long COVID may involve the induction of spontaneous prion emergence, especially in individuals susceptible to its origin may thus explain some of its manesfestions post-acute viral infection.
Stefano GB, Büttiker P, Weissenberger S, Anders M, Raboch J, Ptacek R, Kream RM. Potential Prion Involvement in Long COVID-19 Neuropathology, Including Behavior. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2023 Mar 28:1–6. doi: 10.1007/s10571-023-01342-8.