Sars-CoV-2 can literally catch your eye: What has been suspected for a long time has now been proven in a study for the first time.
In principle, the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus can wreak havoc in all organ systems.
It has long been suspected that, in addition to the respiratory tract, organs and nerve cells, the eyes can also be affected.
Researchers from Münster are now providing proof of this.
That's what it's all about
A study by Münster researchers shows that the corona virus can also cause damage to the eyes.
Two types of cells are affected.
The data suggests that Long Covid can also affect the retina.
For a long time it was assumed that Sars-CoV-2 only attacks the lungs. Today we know that it attacks the whole body. In addition to the respiratory tract, other organ systems can also be affected, such as the brain, heart or liver (see box).
The retina in the eye can also be affected by the corona virus. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (MPI) and the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster have now confirmed in the journal “Stem Cell Reports” what there were only hints of until now. They also show where exactly Sars-CoV-2 docks there and what it does there.
The virus and the liver
The liver is not spared by the coronavirus either. Doctors from the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital report on this in the current issue of the journal “Nature Metabolism”. In the two-stage study, the team was able to prove that infections with Sars-CoV-2 lead to an increase in liver values and that the virus is still present in the liver of people who have died of Covid-19, as the autopsy of 45 people showed. Sometimes even as an active virus. It also turned out that Covid-19 can significantly change the cell programs in the liver and thus have an impact on the metabolism, similar to hepatitis. This again underlines “how diverse the potential damage mechanisms in Covid-19 are,” said study leader Tobias B. Huber in a statement. It is to be feared that we will see more secondary diseases in organs such as the liver and kidneys in the coming years and decades.
Rare, but to be taken seriously
Accordingly, the virus primarily infects the so-called retinal ganglion cells, which are located in the retina and transmit all visual information from the eye to the brain. The light-sensing cells – the so-called cones and rods – can also be infected by the virus. Sars-CoV-2 can also multiply in both cell types. “This finding is new,” says the statement, which was published both by the university and on the MPI website.
Research with organoids
Because Sars-CoV-2 infections in humans cannot be reproduced in animal models, or only with difficulty, the team from Münster worked with so-called retinal organoids, a retinal model consisting of human, reprogrammed stem cells. They infected this model with the virus.
The study shows “that an infection with Sars-CoV-2 can have direct pathological consequences for the retinal ganglion cells, even if visual impairments are not common in those affected by Covid-19,” says research group leader Thomas Rauen. “Our data give us reason to believe that so-called long-Covid symptoms can include degenerative diseases of the retina.”
Previously it was assumed that the retinal problems in Covid patients other symptoms caused by Sars-CoV-2 can be attributed. For example, damage to the blood vessels or an increase in eye pressure.
Are you or is someone you know struggling with the Corona period?
You can find help here:
BAG Infoline Coronavirus, Tel. 058 463 00 00
BAG Infoline Covid-19 vaccination, Tel. 058 377 88 92
Dureschnufe.ch, platform for mental health related to Corona
Safezone.ch, anonymous online advice on addiction issues
Branchenhilfe.ch, Advice for affected economic sectors
Pro Juventute, advice for children and young people, Tel. 147
Offered hand, worry hotline, Tel. 143
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