Researchers from USP (University of São Paulo) confirmed that the new coronavirus is capable of infecting and replicating in saliva, hence the high capacity for infection.
The discovery was made in analyzes of samples of three types of salivary glands, obtained during autopsy in patients who died as a result of complications from Covid-19 at the Hospital das Clínicas of the Faculty of Medicine of USP.
They found that these tissues specialized in saliva production and secretion are reservoirs for the new coronavirus. The results of the study, supported by FAPESP, were published in the Journal of Pathology.
The findings help to explain why the new coronavirus is found in large quantities in saliva.
“It is the first report of a respiratory virus capable of infecting and replicating in the salivary glands. Until then, it was believed that only viruses causing diseases with a very high prevalence, such as herpes, used the salivary glands as a reservoir. This may help. to explain why SARS-CoV-2 is so infectious,” said Bruno Fernandes Matuck, a doctoral candidate at the USP Dentistry School and the first author of the study.
Researchers will assess whether the mouth is a direct gateway for coronaviruses
The researchers at USP intend to assess whether the mouth can be a direct gateway for the coronavirus. The mouth has a larger contact area than the nasal cavity, identified as the main entry point for the virus. Through a partnership with researchers at the University of North Carolina, USA, they will map the distribution of virus receptors in the mouth, evaluating the contamination.