Mar 27, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – Experiments by Hong Kong researchers to gauge the susceptibility of several human and animal cell lines to novel coronavirus (NCoV) found signs that it can infect a broad range of tissues, which might shed light on the disease's seemingly high mortality rate.
Though many questions remain about the source of the new virus and how it spreads, health officials know that it can cause severe clinical illness in some patients, including severe pneumonia and renal failure, the group wrote. They added that until more is known about the disease, lab studies could help provide clues.
The tests they conducted with NCoV and the cell lines are surrogates of virus growth in the tissues. They measured viral load in the cultures, nucleoprotein expression, and cytopathic effect. They published their findings yesterday in an early online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID).
The group used an autopsy NCoV virus sample obtained from the first known case-patient, a Saudi Arabian man who died from the disease in June. They used 27 cell lines from different tissues and organs in their susceptibility tests, 14 from humans and 13 from animals.
Tests suggested that NCoV can infect human respiratory, kidney, and liver cells, as well as histiocytes. The impact on neuronal cells and monocytes was much less.