US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has established two types of cells in the nose with the highest concentration of proteins ACE2 and TMPRSS2, with the help of which the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 enters the body. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The study was conducted within the framework of the international consortium Human Cell Atlas Lung Biological Network, the purpose of which is the study of all human cells.
Although it is known that SARS-CoV-2 uses the same mechanism for penetration into cells as the coronavirus that caused the SARS epidemic in 2003, it was still not known exactly what types of cells in the human nose are involved in its transmission, note scientists from the British institute Wellcome Sanger Institute.
To find out, the researchers analyzed the RNA sequencing data of individual cells from 20 different tissues in uninfected people: lungs, nasal cavity, eyes, intestines, heart and liver. They sought to determine which specific cells exhibited high expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 proteins.
“We found that the ACE2 receptor protein and the TMPRSS2 protease, which can activate SARS-CoV-2 penetration, are expressed in cells of various organs, including cells on the inner surface of the nose. Then we found that of all cells of the respiratory tract, the concentration of both protein is highest in the goblet cells that are involved in mucus production and in the ciliated cells in the nose, which makes them the most likely initial pathway of infection, “said lead author Varadon Shungnak. According to him, the location of these cells in the nose can also contribute to the transmission of the virus to other people.
The authors of the study found proteins ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in the cells of the cornea of the eye and the mucous membrane of the esophagus, ileum and colon. This indicates another possible route of infection – through the eyes and tear ducts, and also allows fecal-oral transmission of the virus.
According to scientists, their discovery will help to find more effective methods of treatment and diagnosis of COVID-19. “For example, drugs / vaccines administered intranasally can be very effective in limiting the spread of infection,” the study said.
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