Lungs, brain – now Corona attacks these organs too

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This virus stops at nothing: scientists have discovered thatSars-CoV-2 can also infect and damage the liver.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) had already described Sars-CoV-2 as a multi-organ virus that infects and damages numerous other organs in addition to the lungs. Scientists have shown that SARS-CoV-2 directly affects the liver, leading to inflammation and altered metabolic programs in an internationally conducted study. The data were published in the journal Nature.

“Elevated liver values in Covid 19 patients had already been noticed before. In the current study, elevated liver values could be detected at hospital admission in almost 60 percent of the approximately 1,200 Covid 19 patients included,” the hospital said in a release.

Only a few sufferers had previously been known to have liver disease, which indicated that SARS-CoV-2 was behind the findings. In addition, an autopsy study was performed on 45 people who died from Covid-19. Here, the virus was detected in the liver in two-thirds of the cases – in some cases, it was even isolated from the liver as an active pathogen.

High-resolution molecular and bioinformatic analyses also showed that SARS-CoV-2 infection could significantly alter cellular programs in the liver, similar to different forms of hepatitis. “These results again underscore how diverse the potential damage mechanisms are in Covid-19. It is to be feared that we will see more Covid-19 sequelae in organs such as the liver and kidneys in the coming years and decades,” explained study leader Prof. Tobias B. Huber, MD, Director of the III Medical Clinic and Polyclinic (Nephrology, Rheumatology, Endocrinology) at UKE.

The study involved scientists from seven departments of the Hamburg clinic and research institutes and numerous partner institutions from Freiburg, Heidelberg, and the USA.

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