The new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, infects and multiplies in salivary gland cells, points to a study developed by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) and published in the Journal of Pathology.
The information was provided by the Agency Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP).
According to the study, tissues that specialize in the production and secretion of saliva act as “reservoirs” for the new coronavirus. The researchers found this by analyzing salivary gland samples taken at autopsy from patients who died of complications from Covid-19.
“It is the first report of a respiratory virus that is able to infect the salivary glands and multiply in them. Until then, it was believed that only viruses that cause disease with a very high prevalence, such as herpes, used the salivary glands as reservoirs. This could help explain why SARS-CoV-2 is so contagious, ”the study’s lead author, Bruno Fernandes Matuck, a PhD student at the USP Dentistry School, told Agência FAPESP.
The study performed ultrasound-guided biopsies to collect tissue samples from the parotid, mandibular, and small glands in 24 patients – mean age 53 – who died from complications caused by Covid-19.
After collecting these samples, the material was then subjected to molecular analysis to identify the presence of the virus. According to the survey, the results indicated the presence of the virus in more than two-thirds of the samples.
“We saw several viruses accumulate in cells of the salivary gland, indicating that they are replicating in them. They weren’t passively present in these cells, ”says Matuck.
With the results of the study, the researchers will now assess whether the mouth can be a direct gateway for the new coronavirus in humans.