Scientists have Discovered a Coronavirus "Reservoir" in the Human Body
OREANDA-NEWS. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is capable of multiplying in the salivary glands, a group of pathologists, dentists and otolaryngologists from the University of São Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil said. Their research is published in The Journal of Pathology.
Scientists analyzed samples of three types of salivary glands (parotid, submandibular and small) from adult patients who died from COVID-19, and concluded that it is the tissues responsible for the production and secretion of saliva that serve as "reservoirs" for infection. Using electron microscopy, the researchers observed not only the presence of the pathogen, but also its replication in cells.
"Until now, it was thought that only viruses that cause common diseases such as herpes use the salivary glands as reservoirs. But our discovery may help explain why SARS-CoV-2 is so highly infectious," said one of the authors of the article. Bruno Fernandez Matuc.
Previously, scientists have identified ACE2 receptors in the ducts of the salivary glands, with which the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds, turning them into a gateway for infection. Prior to this, it was also shown that, in addition to ACE2, at least two receptors present in the salivary glands - TMPRSS2 (membrane-bound serine protease) and furin - serve as targets for the pathogen.
Although it is believed today that the infection enters the body mainly through the nose, scientists will use new research to test whether the mouth can be a medium for direct entry of the virus.