June 19, 2024

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SARS-CoV-2 is like a Trojan horse: How virus breaks into placental fortress

SARS-CoV-2 is like a Trojan horse: Researchers figure out how virus breaks into placental fortress



 

SARS-CoV-2 is like a Trojan horse: Researchers figure out how virus breaks into placental fortress.

 

In a landmark study published on July 1 in Nature Cell Biology, researchers from Monash University and the University of Adelaide Australian researchers led by Professor Jose Polo of Adelaide and Professor Kanta Subbarao of the University of Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity have revealed how COVID-19 infects humans placenta.

 

Studies have shown that COVID-19 infection during pregnancy may lead to adverse outcomes, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy.

 

SARS-CoV-2 is like a Trojan horse: How virus breaks into placental fortress

Placental cells (syncytia, green) infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19, red); blue areas are nuclei, labeled multinucleated syncytia. Source: Monash University

 

Using a state-of-the-art method developed by Professor Polo and colleagues, the Australian research team ‘reprogrammed’ human skin cells into trophoblast stem cells (cells that help a developing embryo attach to the wall of the uterus, forming part of the placenta).

They found that the protein ACE2, which acts as a gateway for SARS-CoV-2 to enter organs such as the lungs, is present in specific placental cells, such as syncytiotrophoblast cells (ST cells).

 

Importantly, ST cells were susceptible to the virus—a major finding because these placental cells produce a hormone (hCG) critical for maintaining pregnancy.

Dr Joseph Chen, a stem cell biologist at Monash University and co-first author of the report, said the finding explained several clinical reports showing that COVID-19 caused the placenta to be penetrated by the virus.

 

“We observed that SARS-CoV-2 infection resulted in a significant reduction in ST cell survival and differentiation, which in turn resulted in reduced hCG production. This suggests how COVID-19 affects pregnancy, although further research is needed,” he said.

 

“Our team also found that anti-ACE2 antibodies and antiviral drugs were effective in preventing SARS-CoV -2 infection, and restore normal differentiation and function of ST.”

 

Professor Subbarao said the research is a major advance in the wider understanding of viral infections in pregnancy: “Our study provides valuable insights into the link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and placental pathology. This change This is a game changer because we now have the ability to explore how the early placenta is affected by other viruses.”

 

Professor Polo emphasized the importance of this study in establishing a platform for the study of early placental cell types. “Not only does this research help us understand what happens when the placenta is infected with the COVID-19 virus during pregnancy, it also means we have established a broader, scalable and operational platform to study early placental cell types,” he said. “

 

 

 

SARS-CoV-2 is like a Trojan horse: Researchers figure out how virus breaks into placental fortress

(source:internet, reference only)


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