A Wednesday study was published in Nature detailed how the virus that causes COVID-19 infects crucial immune cells, causing inflammation, and ultimately severe symptoms of the disease.
The researchers found that SARS COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 in humans, infects monocytes. Monocytes are immune cells that monitor for intruders in the blood.
Macrophages are found in the lungs and kill microorganisms and get rid of dead cells. Both are white blood cells that are key components of the immune response.
Researchers analyzed blood from people infected with the coronavirus and discovered that 6% of monocytes were experiencing pyroptosis, which is a form of cell death connected to inflammation. The dying cells were infected with SARS-COV-2 and likely set inflammatory responses in motion.
According to co-author Judy Lieberman, the amount of dying cells present was abnormal because the body usually rids itself of dead cells hastily.
The researchers also analyzed macrophages in the lungs of patients who died due to COVID-19 and found that 25% of the cells had activated inflammatory responses, some of which had been infected with the coronavirus.
Lieberman stated that “when cells die by pyroptosis they release all sorts of inflammatory proteins that cause fever and summon more immune cell to the site… We don’t know how to treat that once it starts.” Lieberman reported. CNN.
It is difficult to contain the emergency signals that are constantly being activated.
“These findings taken together suggest that antibody-mediated SARS-CoV-2 uptake by monocytes/macrophages triggers inflammatory cell death that aborts production of infectious virus but causes systemic inflammation that contributes to COVID-19 pathogenesis,” the study’s authors said.