The coronavirus spike protein alone appears to be enough to damage blood vessel cells, even causing blood clots
We have known it as thehook which allows the coronavirus to attach itself to the cells and to penetrate them, establishing the infection and all its consequences, but the protein spike it might itself, too alone, be one threat for our health. A study published in the journal Circulation Research by researchers at the Salk Institute and the University of California-San Diego points out as the simple bond between the protein spike and Ace2 receptors on blood vessel cells is sufficient to induce a damage to the vascular system. A possible explanation of the circulatory problems frequent in patients with Covid-19 apparently not directly related to the infection and which could underline the vascular rather than respiratory nature of the disease.
That Sars-Cov-2 infection affects the vascular system is a known fact, but in this study for the first time scientists have proved that the virus does not need to get infected (on the contrary, the virus in its entirety is not really needed) to damage the endothelial cells that cover the inside of the blood vessels: the lexamination between spike protein and Ace2 receptors present on the cell surface. To prove this, scientists exposed one animal model to one pseudovirus, practically an empty envelope (no viral genome inside) on whose surface the proteins are expressed spike typical of the coronavirus, noting damage to the lungs and arteries caused by ainflammation of endothelial cells.
The research also shed light on the mechanism (previously unknown) with which the link between the spike and Ace2 damages cells: thanks to experiments in vitro scientists have found that it depends on the collapse of the mitochondria system, the organelles that supply energy to cells. The details, however, are still being studied.
Covid-19, respiratory or vascular disease?
“Many people consider Covid-19 to be a respiratory disease, but in reality it is one vascular disease“commented Uri Manor, one of the authors of the study. “This may explain why some people have stroke and problems in other parts of the body. The thing in common between them is that they all have vascular bases ”.
I agree with several Americans too Brazilian researchers who proposed to change the classification of SARS disease (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) a thrombotic viral fever. For experts, in fact, it is now clear that in the case of Covid-19 the evaluation of coagulation parameters is at least as important as that of respiratory parameters.