Neurophenotypes of COVID-19: Risk factors and recovery outcomes

Divya Prabhakaran, Gregory S. Day, Bala Munipalli, Beth K. Rush, Lauren Pudalov, Shehzad K. Niazi, Emily Brennan, Harry R. Powers, Ravi Durvasula, Arjun Athreya, Karen Blackmon

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection is associated with risk of persistent neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric complications. It is unclear whether the neuropsychological manifestations of COVID-19 present as a uniform syndrome or as distinct neurophenotypes with differing risk factors and recovery outcomes. We examined post-acute neuropsychological profiles following SARS-CoV-2 infection in 205 patients recruited from inpatient and outpatient populations, using an unsupervised machine learning cluster analysis, with objective and subjective measures as input features. This resulted in three distinct post-COVID clusters. In the largest cluster (69%), cognitive functions were within normal limits, although mild subjective attention and memory complaints were reported. Vaccination was associated with membership in this “normal cognition” phenotype. Cognitive impairment was present in the remaining 31% of the sample but clustered into two differentially impaired groups. In 16% of participants, memory deficits, slowed processing speed, and fatigue were predominant. Risk factors for membership in the “memory-speed impaired” neurophenotype included anosmia and more severe COVID-19 infection. In the remaining 15% of participants, executive dysfunction was predominant. Risk factors for membership in this milder “dysexecutive” neurophenotype included disease-nonspecific factors such as neighborhood deprivation and obesity. Recovery outcomes at 6-month follow-up differed across neurophenotypes, with the normal cognition group showing improvement in verbal memory and psychomotor speed, the dysexecutive group showing improvement in cognitive flexibility, and the memory-speed impaired group showing no objective improvement and relatively worse functional outcomes compared to the other two clusters. These results indicate that there are multiple post-acute neurophenotypes of COVID-19, with different etiological pathways and recovery outcomes. This information may inform phenotype-specific approaches to treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100648
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


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