In the course of laboratory studies of the new coronavirus, the scientists discovered its irreversible effects on the heart. The virus is able to cut the fibers of the heart muscle into small fragments of a certain size. These incisions permanently damage the heart cells. The discovery was made in the laboratory, but the scientists believe that a similar process occurs in the body of patients infected with the COVID-19.
Medicine is faced with the unusual fact that no other disease damages heart cells that way for the first time. Todd McDevitt, who is a senior researcher at the nonprofit Gladstone Institutes, said that the doctors had never seen anything like that before, and it was not considered as normal.
The new discovery will allow doctors to explain how the coronavirus harms the heart. Previous studies showed the signs of cardiac abnormalities, including inflammation of the heart muscle, even in relatively mild cases. The scientists used special stem cells to create three types of heart cells.
These are cardiomyocytes, cardiac fibroblasts and endothelial cells. Then all cells were exposed in turn to the SARS-CoV-2. It turned out that the virus is able to infect and copy itself only inside the cardiomyocytes, the cells of the heart muscle.
These cells contain muscle fibers, each of them is made up of particles called sarcomeres. Thanks to them, the heart works and it contracts, a heartbeat occurs. Usually the sarcomeres line up in one line, thus forming long filaments. But during the study, it turned out that under the influence of the coronavirus, these lines were destroyed into the small fragments.
Because of that, the heart could not function normally. In a study of three COVID-19 patients, they saw that the sarcomere filaments were disordered and rearranged. The scientists still have doubts, since sarcomeric changes are necessary in the work of the heart and other patients, and not only in the laboratory.
To do that, you need to organize a special process that will allow you to observe the sarcomeres in patients during the treatment.