In the image on the left it is possible to observe the RdRp enzyme of SARS-CoV-2 (in red), which regulates viral replication, inside the CD4 T lymphocyte. In the image on the right, the green spots represent the SARS-spike proteins. CoV-2 (spike proteins) close to the membrane of the human defense cell – Photo: Henrique Marques-Souza / Unicamp)
Research indicates that Sars-coV-2 virus is capable of infecting and replicating within lymphocytes, which can lead these defense cells to death and compromise the immune system. According to scientists, the covid-19 virus acts in a similar way to HIV, which causes AIDS. The study was coordinated by the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) and had the participation of researchers from USP.
Both HIV and the new coronavirus affect a type of lymphocyte known as T CD4, responsible for coordinating adaptive immune responses, which help in the production of antibodies and proliferation of cells that are responsible for recognizing and killing infected cells. The results suggest that, in some patients, the coronavirus can cause acute immunodeficiency not only because it kills the CD4 T lymphocyte, but because it can harm the functions of the infected cell.
The conclusions of the article SARS-CoV-2 Uses CD4 to Infect T Helper Lymphocytes they are mainly based on experiments with primary lymphocyte cultures, isolated from the blood of uninfected volunteers and patients with Covid-19. The experiments were carried out at the IB-Unicamp Laboratory for Emerging Virus Studies (Leve), with support from Fapesp. The work is still under review.
With information from Karina Toledo, from FAPESP Agency