Fatigue May Be Key in Long-COVID-19

Patients with lingering effects from COVID-19 and who self-reported impaired attention, memory, multitasking abilities, word-finding difficulties, and fatigue, were found to have only minor impairments when given a battery of cognitive tests. A sub-group of patients who underwent 18F FDG PET scans were found to have no distinct pathology, ruling out possible alternative diagnoses for the reported behavior, according to a study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Led authors Drs. Andrea Dressing and Tobias Bormann and their team wrote, “In patients (n=31) in the long-term phase after COVID-19 (202±58 days after positive PCR) with self-reported symptoms of Long COVID, an exhaustive neuropsychological test-battery revealed slight impairments only in individual cases, whereas fatigue was highly prevalent. Cerebral 18F-FDG PET failed to reveal a distinct pathological signature in the subgroup of patients undergoing 18F-FDG PET (n=14).”

“The findings deviate from previous reports in patients in the early subacute stage of COVID-19 and suggest that underlying causes of Long COVID might be related to fatigue but not to persistent cortical dysfunction,” concluded the team.


Andrea Dressing, Tobias Bormann, Ganna Blazhenets, Nils Schroeter, Lea I Walter, Johannes Thurow, Dietrich August, Hanna Hilger, Katarina Stete, Kathrin Gerstacker, Susan Arndt, Alexander Rau, Horst Urbach, Siegbert Rieg, Dirk Wagner, Cornelius Weiller, Philipp T Meyer, Jonas A Hosp. Neuropsychological profiles and cerebral glucose metabolism in neurocognitive Long COVID-syndrome. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Oct 2021, jnumed.121.262677; DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.121.262677. Published online October 14, 2021, at https://jnm.snmjournals.org/content/early/2021/10/14/jnumed.121.262677. Accessed November 2, 2021.

Morton, Will. Brain scans of patients with ‘long COVID-19’ appear normal. AuntMinnie.com October 20, 2021, at https://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=mol&pag=dis&ItemID=133806. Accessed November 2, 2021.

Figure 1. Individual results of voxelwise statistical analysis of 18F-FDG PET data with NeuroSTAT/3D-SSP. Shown are lateral and superior views of the brain. Metabolic deficits compared with age-matched control subjects are color-coded as z scores. MoCA, Montreal cognitive assessment. Z, z-score.
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