Since the introduction of SARS-CoV-2, several patients have reported neurological symptoms of varying degrees of severity and duration. These symptoms can be very exhausting in everyday life, especially in the case of long-term COVID. It is unclear how this virus enters the brain. A new study reveals a previously unknown distribution mechanism: it is assumed that the virus causes nanotubes to spread from nose to neuron cells.
SARS-CoV-2 is mostly a blow to the respiratory tract, but in some cases it also affects other organs, such as the intestine, liver, kidneys, heart and brain. How the virus accesss the brain and causes neurological symptoms is not clear, because the main "turn" of the virus is the receptor of angiotensin for enzyme 2.
Understanding how SARS-CoV-2 enters neurons is key to understanding .
Given the neurological effects of SARS-CoV-2, they assumed that the virus could also use TNT for distribution from cells with favourable conditions to less favourable cells.
To test this hypothesis, they cultivate neurons cells that describe TNT and identify well, reports the team to .
Researching cell cultures using a confrontational microscopy, they found that neuron cells could be infected with TNT-intermediated machinery when co-cultivated with infected permissive epithelial cells. "," researchers report.
Researchers have discovered that the virus present in the epithelial cells is then distracting them from their original functions, such as the transport of lipids and proteins, and entering them.
The ability to increase their surveillance device allowed them to even observe the transition of the virus from one cell to another: "", they write, and they also found proteins linked to the cell mechanism that the virus uses to replicate.
In short, SARS-CoV-2 has not only found a way to invade cells into which it could not enter normally, but this mechanism increases the spread of the virus between permissive cells in addition to the endocytic path. Note that this is not the only virus that controls cells in this way: HIV and influenza viruses also use TNT to move from cell to cell. These nanotubes can also be a source of long-term covid: hidden within, the virus can avoid antibodies and last longer in the body.
This is an experiment conducted in vitro on cell models, and to confirm that the same mechanism works in the human brain, further research will be required, but if this method of action is confirmed, the Zurzolo team believes that it is possible to develop drugs that block or cut the formation of nanotubes.