The Italian study of the University of Brescia discovered how the virus can penetrate not only into the lungs but potentially throughout the body by 'hooking up' proteins expressed by all human cells. They are called integrins and they work like 'universal switches' that the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 can open to enact its invasion.
Scientific research was published on Microorganisms, scientific journal of microbiology, and presented at the 5th National Congress of the Italian Society of Virology (Siv-Isv) led by Arnaldo Caruso, full professor of microbiology and clinical microbiology at the University of Brescia and director of the microbiology laboratory of Asst Spedali Civili. During the Congress, which saw over 600 participants gather, there was a discussion "on the most recent results obtained in the various fields of human, animal, environmental and plant virology ", has explained Caruso. Among the issues addressed, the latest updates on the Sars-CoV-2 virus and the studies conducted.
What happens to our body when it comes into contact with the Sars-CoV-2 virus?
Not just the lungs. Covid-19, in its most severe forms, can attack the whole body
This is demonstrated by the work of the group of Francesca Caccuri ofUniversity of Brescia, which highlighted how lung microvascular endothelial cells are susceptible to Sars-CoV-2 infection, and are also at the basis of the inflammatory and angiogenic processes that contribute to the development of severe Covid. “The importance of the study - he underlined Caruso - it is in particular the demonstration of the way of interaction between the virus and the endothelial cells. A mechanism that indicates new, potential integrins therapeutic targets against Covid-19 ″.
“The research - specified the president Siv-Isv - identifies for the first time integrins as alternative receptors to Ace2 to allow the infection of endothelial cells and virtually all human cells that do not express the Ace2 receptor. In fact, integrins, unlike Ace2, are universally expressed receptors on the cells of our organism. Sars-CoV-2's use of this specific receptor could explain the multi-organ involvement typical of severe forms of Covid-19 ”.
In light of the study by Caccuri and colleagues, therefore, "integrins could represent a new and important therapeutic target to counteract the presence of the virus at a systemic level and help limit the severity of the disease".