In Brazil, researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Medical School (FM-USP) have discovered that SARS-CoV-2 infects and replicates in the salivary glands.
Analysis of samples from three types of salivary gland obtained during a minimally invasive autopsy procedure performed on patients who died from complications of COVID-19 at Hospital das Clínicas, FM-USP’s hospital complex, showed that tissues specializing in producing and secreting saliva serve as reservoirs for the novel coronavirus.
The study was supported by FAPESP and reported in an article published in the Journal of Pathology.
The researchers said the discovery helps explain why the virus is so abundant in saliva and has enabled scientists to develop saliva-based diagnostic tests for COVID-19.
“This is the first report of a respiratory virus’s capacity to infect and replicate in salivary glands. Until now it was thought that only viruses that cause highly prevalent diseases such as herpes used salivary glands as reservoirs. The discovery may help explain why SARS-CoV-2 is so infectious,” Bruno Fernandes Matuck, a PhD candidate at USP’s Dental School and first author of the article, told Agência FAPESP.
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