Scientists prove SARS-CoV-2 potential to infect human brain
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SARS-CoV-2 can infect human neural progenitor cells and brain organoids, as shown by researchers from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT). Their study was published in Cell Research.

A study of 214 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Wuhan reported that 36.4% of all patients and 45.5% of severe cases had neurologic symptoms. In addition, studies from France and Germany have revealed that 84.5% and 36.4%, respectively, of COVID-19 patients had viral infections in the brain.

To explore the direct involvement of SARS-CoV-2 in the CNS in physiologically relevant models, the research team assessed SARS-CoV-2 infection in human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs), neurospheres and brain organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

The results demonstrated that iPSC-derived hNPCs were permissive to SARS-CoV-2 infection, but not SARS-CoV infection. Extensive protein expression and infectious viral particles were detected in neurospheres and brain organoids infected with SARS-CoV-2, which suggested SARS-CoV-2 could productively infect the human brain.

Importantly, SARS-CoV-2 infection in 3-D human brain organoids was localized to TUJ1 (neuronal marker) and NESTIN (NPC marker)-positive cells, suggesting SARS-CoV-2 could directly target cortical neurons and NPCs.

"Overall, this study provides the first evidence of direct SARS-CoV-2 infection in human brain organoids, which contributes to our understanding of the pathogenesis of neurological complications in COVID-19," said researchers.

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41422-020-0390-x
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