Is Covid-19 more vascular than respiratory disease?

Is Covid-19 more vascular than respiratory disease?

The coronavirus spike protein alone appears to be sufficient to damage blood vessel cells, even causing blood clots

(Photo: Pixabay) We have known it as the hook that allows the coronavirus to attach itself to cells and to penetrate into it, establishing the infection and all its consequences, but the spike protein itself could, even by itself, be a threat to our health. A study published in the journal Circulation Research by researchers from the Salk Institute and the University of California-San Diego highlights how the simple link between the spike protein and the Ace2 receptors on blood vessel cells is sufficient to induce damage to the vascular system. A possible explanation of the frequent circulatory problems in patients with Covid-19 apparently not directly related to the infection and which could underline the vascular rather than respiratory nature of the disease.

Fatal link

What the 'infection by Sars-Cov-2 has consequences on the vascular system is a known fact, but in this study for the first time, scientists have shown that the virus does not need to infect (indeed, the virus in its entirety is not needed ) to damage the endothelial cells that cover the inside of blood vessels: just the link between the spike protein and the Ace2 receptors present on the cell surface. To demonstrate this, scientists exposed an animal model to a pseudovirus, practically an empty envelope (no viral genome inside) on whose surface the spike proteins typical of the coronavirus are expressed, noting damage to the lungs and arteries caused by an inflammation of the endothelial cells.

The research has also shed light on the mechanism (previously unknown) by which the link between the spike and the Ace2 damages cells: thanks to in vitro experiments, scientists have discovered that it depends on the collapse of the mitochondria system, organelles that supply energy to cells. The details, however, are still being studied.

Covid-19, respiratory or vascular disease?

"Many people consider Covid-19 a respiratory disease, but it is actually a disease vascular, ”commented Uri Manor, one of the authors of the study. “This may explain why some people have strokes and problems in other parts of the body. The thing in common between them is that they all have vascular bases ”.

Several Brazilian researchers also agree with the Americans who have proposed changing the classification of the disease from SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) to thrombotic viral fever. For experts, in fact, it is now clear that in the case of Covid-19 the evaluation of the coagulation parameters is at least as important as that of the respiratory parameters.

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