in

Lung cell images show how intense a coronavirus infection can be


New closeup views of lung cells show just how prolifically the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can replicate once it infiltrates the respiratory tract. 

In the lab, pediatric pulmonologist Camille Ehre and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill infected cells that line the airways in the lungs with SARS-CoV-2, waited 96 hours and then snapped scanning electron micrograph images of the virus-laden cells.

“Once a cell is infected, it is completely taken over by the virus, producing an astonishing number of viruses” Ehre says. In a lab dish of about 1 million human cells, she says the viral load can skyrocket from about one thousand infectious viruses to 10 million in just two days. The new images were published September 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cells that line the respiratory tract and their hairlike protrusions called cilia help clear airways of inhaled particles and pathogens. These types of cells are also specifically targeted by the coronavirus. Once infected, they churn out “astronomical numbers” of viral particles, Ehre says, potentially propelling the particles deeper into the lungs, which can cause pneumonia, or out into the air where they can infect others.

“These images of airway cells jam-packed with viruses make a strong case for the use of masks to limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission whether an individual has symptoms or not,” Ehre says. Widespread mask wearing could help contain such explosive viral replication from spreading beyond a single individual.

Coronavirus particles (small, spiky spheres) coat a human lung cell and its hairlike cilia in this scanning electron micrograph (left; higher-resolution view at right).C. Ehre/NEJM 2020



Source: Science News, Author: Jonathan Lambert

What do you think?

Written by Peek Jar

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading…

0
An ice cream pie with pretzel crust, a ribbon of strawberry jam, and dark chocolate shavings and pretzels with a slice lying on its side on a slab of white and grey marble.

Strawberry Pretzel Ice Cream Pie

Processor: Google Pixels are coming, OnePlus Buds are seized, and LG is making weird phones again