Mexico.- According to an autopsy study of 27 patients killed in Germany, the Covid-19 virus infects not only pharynx and lung cells, but also other cells of the heart, liver, kidneys, brain and blood.
The results indicate that, when Covid becomes a multiorgan disease, it is not only because of an excessive reaction of the immune system that attacks its own tissues as proposed. It is also due to direct damage caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in vital organs.
This more accurate understanding of the disease confirms that antivirals, in addition to drugs that regulate the immune system, can improve the treatment of patients suffering from serious complications. Looking ahead, you can guide doctors and pharmaceutical companies to improve Covid therapies.
«These findings indicate that SARS-CoV-2 has broad organotropism,» the research authors conclude in The New England Journal of Medicine, referring to the effect that coronavirus can infect multiple organs.
Serious damage can be caused by the direct action of the virus and not just to the fire friendly of the immune system.
The progression of Covid in patients has been a puzzle for doctors since the first cases of the disease were described in January. It has particularly baffled the great diversity of clinical tables it can cause, with very variable symptoms from one patient to another.
The initial image of a respiratory infection has opened the way to a more complex vision that takes into account that the disease can progress beyond the respiratory system. Why mechanisms affect other organs, however, it has been an enigma so far.
It has been observed that, in severe cases of pneumonia caused by Covid, a cytokine storm occurs, i.e. an uncontrolled inflammatory reaction that damages the body itself and can be fatal. But it is not known to what extent the direct action of the virus contributes to multiorgan damage.
In search of answers, different research groups have performed autopsies of patients who died by Covid. In this way, they have been able to analyze damaged tissues with a detail that cannot be achieved in hospitalized patients.
Better understanding the disease can guide doctors to find more effective therapies
In the study now presented, doctors at univer-sitario Hamburg-Eppendorf hospital (Germany) have tested traces of the virus in seven different organs of Covid victims. As expected, 100% of the deceased have been detected in the lungs, as well as in the 80% pharynx.
It has also been found in 77% of the hearts analyzed and in 77% of livers. Although liver alterations had already been reported in Covid patients before, it had been noted that they may have been due to the effects of the medication. New data indicate that it may also be due to the virus’s direct effects.
In the kidneys, which are affected in many severe cases of Covid, the virus has been detected in 62% of patients. It has also been found in the brain of 38% of cases and in the blood of 36%. There is no organ in which the virus has been searched and not found.
Intrigued by the kidney damage caused by Covid, and leading a significant percentage of patients admitted to ICU to need dialysis, researchers have studied in detail the presence of the virus in different areas of the kidney of six deceased. They had previously found out, reviewing already published data, that most types of kidney cells have the protein ACE2, which coronavirus uses as a gateway to the cells it infects. Autopsy results show that three of the six patients had the virus in all areas of the kidney.
According to the authors of the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine, where they presented their results on Wednesday, these observations provide «a potential explanation of the clinical signs of kidney injury frequently recorded in patients with Covid-19, even in patients who are not in critical condition.»