Heart damage in patients with COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus that infects heart muscle cells, leading to a deadly cell that interferes with muscle contraction, according to a study that could lead to the development of new drugs to treat viral infection.
Although studies since the onset of the pandemic have linked COVID-19 to heart problems such as reduced ability to pump blood, scientists, including those at the University of Washington School of Medicine in the United States, said it was not yet known if they were directly caused by a virus. infects an organ or due to inflammation in other places in the body.
In the current study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Basic to Translational Science, they used stem cells to engineer heart tissue and model how the coronavirus infects the heart.
The researchers found that the viral infection not only kills the heart muscle cells, but also destroys the units of muscle fibers responsible for the contraction of the heart muscle.
According to scientists, this cell death and loss of heart muscle fibers can occur even in the absence of inflammation.
“Inflammation may be another hit on top of the damage caused by the virus, but inflammation itself is not the initial cause of heart injury,” said senior study author Kory J. Lavine of the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Based on the results of the study, the researchers said that the coronavirus is unique in its effect on the heart, especially in immune cells that respond to infection.
For most other viruses that affect the heart, T cells and B cells of the immune system are said to be at the site of infection, however in COVID-19, the study found that body immune cells called macrophages, monocytes, and dendritic cells dominate the counter response.
“COVID-19 causes a different immune response in the heart than other viruses, and we don’t yet know what that means,” Lavine said.
“Generally, immune cells that have been seen to respond to other viruses tend to be associated with a relatively short disease that is addressed with support,” he added.
According to scientists, these immune cells are associated with a chronic condition that can have long-term consequences.
Although the researchers could confirm their findings by studying the tissues of four COVID-19 patients who had a heart injury associated with the infection, they said more research is needed to “understand what’s going on.”
“Even young people who have had very mild symptoms can later develop heart problems that limit their ability to exercise,” Lavine said.
“We want to understand what’s going on so we can prevent or treat it. In the meantime, we want everyone to take this virus seriously and do their best to take precautions and stop it from spreading, so we don’t have an even bigger epidemic of preventable diseases in the future.” , he added.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)