New insights into the spread of the virus
An infection with the coronavirus can show itself in different ways. In addition to the throat and lungs, many other organs can also be affected. Researchers have now found hotspots – just by analyzing data.
You can see in the video what happens in the body with a corona infection.
Researchers evaluated data on corona infections
Researchers have found out in which cells the genetic requirements for an infection with coronavirus exist. For this, Manvendra Singh and Cédric Feschotte from Cornell University in Ithaca / New York and Vikas Bansal from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Tübingen do not need a laboratory, reports the German Medical Journal. Instead, the researchers searched databases. In this way, they found out in which cells the prerequisites for coronavirus infection are met.
The researchers looked at the two well-known traits that Sars-CoV-2 needs to attack a cell. ACE2 (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme2) serves as a docking point to the cell and TMPRSS2 (Transmembrane Serine Protease2) allows the viruses to get inside the cell. But these two factors are not the only ones that affect infectivity. The viruses also need certain enzymes, for example, in order to be able to reproduce within the cell.
At the same time, there are also various factors that prevent the virus from penetrating and multiplying. With this knowledge, the research trio developed a so-called panel of 28 genes and cellular factors that can presumably influence infectivity. In the next step, the researchers checked the activity, also known as expression, of the 28 candidates. For this purpose, the researchers evaluated known data from around 400,000 human cells from various tissue types. These include the healthy cells of the nasal mucosa, the lungs, the intestines, the heart, the kidneys and the genital organs.
Virus hotspot is in the nose
It turned out that the nasal mucosa interacts with the coronavirus like on a battlefield. “It therefore seems that the contact of the virus with the nasal mucosa leads to a tug of war. So the question is who will emerge victorious. Interestingly, our data suggest that the level of expression of the entry factors in human nasal tissue changes with age That could be one reason why older people are more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, “says Bansal, explaining part of the results.
In addition to the nasal mucosa, the intestines, kidneys, testes and even the placenta are also named as potential hotspots for Sars-CoV-2. According to the data, the lungs, heart and central nervous system can also be successfully attacked by Sars-CoV-2, even if other cellular factors act as alternatives to the ACE2 receptor. However, the researchers did not find any evidence of direct involvement of the nerve cells.
Data are freely accessible to others
With their results, the researchers can determine which cells in the organs can be attacked by coronaviruses and how. The findings can be reconciled with the various symptoms that Covid 19 disease can bring. At the same time, however, the researchers point out that further research is needed. “One of the limitations of our results is that expression patterns can change in the course of an infection and that such activity profiles do not directly reflect the frequency of proteins, such as cell receptors. However, expression patterns are good indicators,” says Bansal, according to a DZNE report to consider.
As part of the study, the researchers also developed an openly accessible page where their data is easily accessible. “This is a useful resource for Covid-19, but maybe also for the next corona pandemic – not that I would like one,” emphasized study leader Feschotte in a message from Cornell University. “But we have to be realistic and better prepared. Part of the preparation is to have the data out.” The results were published in “Cell Reports” as a pre-print, ie as an as yet unchecked article.