Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Post-COVID cognitive deficits (often referred to as 'brain fog') are common and have large impacts on patients' level of functioning. No specific intervention exists to mitigate this burden. This study tested the hypothesis, inspired by recent experimental research, that post-COVID cognitive deficits can be prevented by inhibiting receptor-interacting protein kinase. Using electronic health record data, we compared the cognitive outcomes of propensity score-matched cohorts of patients with epilepsy taking phenytoin (a commonly used receptor-interacting protein kinase inhibitor) versus valproate or levetiracetam at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients taking phenytoin at the time of COVID-19 were at a significantly lower risk of cognitive deficits in the 6 months after COVID-19 infection than a matched cohort of patients receiving levetiracetam (hazard ratio 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.63-0.97, P = 0.024) or valproate (hazard ratio 0.73, 95% confidence interval 0.58-0.93, P = 0.011). In secondary analyses, results were robust when controlling for subtype of epilepsy, and showed specificity to cognitive deficits in that similar associations were not seen with other 'long-COVID' outcomes such as persistent breathlessness or pain. These findings provide pharmacoepidemiological support for the hypothesis that receptor-interacting protein kinase signaling is involved in post-COVID cognitive deficits. These results should prompt empirical investigations of receptor-interacting protein kinase inhibitors in the prevention of post-COVID cognitive deficits.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Commun

Publication Date





Mpro, RIPK signaling, brain fog, endotheliopathy, long COVID