A new study has provided new insights into why the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is known to cause COVID-19, can sometimes fuels inflammation, which in turn causes serious illness. This research was led by scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Its findings were published in the “Nature” journal.
The researchers also discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects and kills specific cells in the immune system in the lungs and the blood. The elimination of these alarms is what triggers the immune system.
In a news release, Professor Judith Lieberman, one of the leaders of the study, stated that the group’s objective was to understand what distinguished mild and severe coronavirus infections. Lieberman explained that individuals with severe illnesses had higher inflammatory markers, noting that while they knew that the inflammation was the cause of the ailment’s severity, they didn’t know what caused this inflammation.
During their study, the scientists discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus infected macrophages and monocytes, which are found in the lungs and the blood. These immune cells usually act against infection. They explained that once these sentinel cells were infected, they died so quickly that the virus is prevented from taking over and replicating itself. However, despite the quick death, these cells released inflammatory molecules, which the researchers believe is what causes infection.
In the study abstract, the researchers stated that cell death caused systemic inflammation that contributed to coronavirus pathogenesis. The researchers also explained that it was surprising to discover that macrophages and monocytes could be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This, they said, was because macrophages had low ACE2 amounts while monocytes didn’t carry any ACE2 receptors. ACE2 receptors are an entry point for this deadly virus.
Scientists theorize that the antibodies that the immune system of an individual infected with the coronavirus created may actually worsen inflammation as they help the virus invade the monocytes. However, they added, the antibodies created by vaccines didn’t cause the same issue.
In a news article that accompanied the study, University of Hong Kong virologist Malik Peiris stated that the study provided an explanation of how the coronavirus progressed.
The cofirst authors of the paper include Shahin Ranjbar, Ângela Crespo and Caroline Junqueira. These researchers are all part of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.
The team of researchers, which was also comprised of a number of coauthors, was led by Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dr. Michael Filbin along with Junqueira and Lieberman.
Inflammation is so serious that major companies, including Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO), are heavily investing in finding new ways to combat this condition, which can quickly become life threatening.
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