The SARS-CoV-2 virus is far from being just another coronavirus, as some people still try to make us believe. The deadly pathogen can affect as well other organs besides the lungs, and a new experiment led by Shen Li, who is a cardiologist at UCLA, proves it.
The work of Shen Li and his team manages to reveal how the pandemic virus wreaks havoc for multiple organ systems from the bodies of mice. Although the new experimental model doesn’t directly correspond to cases of COVID-19 for humans, it’s still giving scientists a good idea for how the deadly respiratory pathogen extends beyond the respiratory system in many cases of infection.
SARS-CoV-2 also affects the heart
The cardiologist Arjun Deb from UCLA explains:
This mouse model is a really powerful tool for studying SARS-CoV-2 in a living system.
Below we can see heart muscle cells from an uninfected mouse on the left and a mouse who suffers from COVID-19 on the right, while mitochondria are seen in pink:
Credit for the images goes to JCI Insight/UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Centre.
Arjun Deb also says:
Among COVID-19 patients, those who have organs involved other than the lungs are most at risk of a bad outcome,
So we felt it was really important to understand how the virus affects those other organs.
In less than seven days, the infected mice have shown profound morbidity and lack of energy for performing usual activities. The animals were even found huddled in the corner of the cage. The infected mice also lost up to 25 percent of their body weight.
The ongoing pandemic is the culprit for more than 1.5 million deaths across the world, and there’s no telling when the horror will end.
The new scientific work was reported in JCI Insight.