Coronavirus Can Infect Stem Cells

  • The authors of the new article asked a more specific question: can the virus enter the stem cells of the respiratory system?
  • One of the body parts is the epithelium that is constantly updated.
  • The stem cells can turn into different types of cells, including epithelial cells.

Russian scientists have found that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is able to infect stem cells. This makes the pathogen especially dangerous, and distinguishes it from the other viruses, which cause only mild infection. SARS-CoV-2 is not the only coronavirus that can infect humans.

Moscow State University (MSU) is a coeducational and public research university located in Moscow, Russia. It was founded on 23 January [O.S. 12 January] 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov.
According to a press release from Lomonosov Moscow State University, about 15% of all cases of SARS are caused by certain coronaviruses. What is the difference for a pathogen that has killed more than a million people worldwide in less than a year?

To better understand the causes of Coronavirus malignancy, it is important to identify all types of cells that the pathogen can enter. However, this is a very large-scale task, because the human body has a wide variety of cells.

The authors of the new article asked a more specific question: can the virus enter the stem cells of the respiratory system? Their article is titled, “Expression of SARS-CoV-2 entry factors in lung epithelial stem cells and its potential implications for COVID-19”

One of the body parts is the epithelium that is constantly updated. Epithelium is a thin, continuous, protective layer of cells. Epithelial tissues line the outer surfaces of organs and blood vessels throughout the body, as well as the inner surfaces of cavities in many internal organs. An example is the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.

For the production of these new cells in the respiratory system, there are special populations of stem cells. It should be noted that stem cells can turn into different types of cells, including epithelial cells. If the epithelium of the respiratory system is damaged more than usual, like in the case of the bronchitis, the regular stem cells can not cope with its renewal.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Moreover, it is known that the Coronavirus can infect the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract. Hence, it would lead to pneumonia. However, the Russian researchers wanted to find out if the stem cells are vulnerable to coronavirus.

The easiest way is to check whether these cells produce the proteins that the pathogen uses to enter the cell. The Russian researchers from the Lomonosov University analyzed the data accumulated in databases by different scientific groups. Thereafter, the researchers received results that proved the stem cells are vulnerable to the Coronavirus.

In some cases, stem cells may be even more sensitive to viral infection than the differentiated non stem cells surrounding them. Infection of stem cells can lead to violations of epithelial regeneration, which, as they suggest, may be one of the reasons for the high pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2. The first author of the article, Anna Valyaeva from Moscow State University, summarized the paper.

Sadly, there are going to be additional findings of the Coronavirus impact.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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