Not just the lungs. Covid-19, in its most severe forms, can attack several organs and potentially the whole body, ‘hooking up’ proteins expressed by all human cells. They are called integrins and function as ‘universal switches’ that the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus can ‘open’ to enact its invasion. This was discovered by an Italian study published in ‘Microorganisms’ 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 the Asst Spedali Civili.
The event, chaired by Caruso, took place yesterday and today electronically with “an unprecedented participation – the number one of Italian virologists explains to Adnkronos Salute – attested by 90 speakers and over 600 active participants. more recent results obtained in the various fields of human, animal, environmental and plant virology “, explains the president. And “among the issues addressed there was an update on the virus that changed our lives. Many studies have been conducted on the pandemic coronavirus and the related scientific data presented”.
Among others, the work of the group of Francesca Caccuri of the University of Brescia, which demonstrated how lung microvascular endothelial cells are susceptible to Sars-CoV-2 infection, and are also at the basis of the inflammatory and angiogenetic processes that contribute to the development of severe Covid. “The importance of the study – underlines Caruso – is in particular the demonstration of the way of interaction between the virus and the endothelial cells. A mechanism that indicates precisely in new integrins, potential therapeutic targets against Covid-19”.
“The research – remarks 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, al contrary to Ace2, they are receptors universally expressed on the cells of our organism. The use by Sars-CoV-2 of this specific receptor could explain the multi-organ involvement typical of severe forms of Covid-19 “.
In the 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”.