The replication competence and cellular tropism of SARS-CoV-2 in human respiratory tract and conjunctiva.
HKU SPH researchers have published an article in Lancet Respiratory Medicine on their evaluation of the tissue and cellular tropism of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the human respiratory tract and conjunctiva. They also compared the innate immune responses against SARS-CoV-2, other coronaviruses and influenza viruses in ex-vivo cultures of human colorectal cancer cell lines. Results showed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can infect and replicate in conjunctival epithelium (the membrane between the eyelids and front surface of the eye) as well as the cells in the upper and lower respiratory tract. SARS-CoV-2 replicated similarly to SARS-CoV and H1N1pdm in air sacs in the lungs, but it replicated more extensively in the lower airways than SARS-CoV. This might help to explain the increased transmissibility of the virus, and results also indicated the necessity of validation of routes of infection by SARS-CoV-2 that do not involve the respiratory tract.
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