COVID-19 can infect, replicate in salivary gland cells; serve as reservoirs for viruses

WION Web Team
NEW DELHIUpdated: Jul 08, 2021, 02:09 PM IST

File photo Photograph:(AFP)

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As SARS-CoV-2 is highly infectious compared with other respiratory viruses, they raised the hypothesis that it may replicate in cells of the salivary glands and hence be present in saliva without coming into contact with nasal and lung secretions. 

The infectivity of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been surprising the scientific world as the COVID-19 epidemic has proceeded.

While the virus mostly affects the lungs, it has been discovered to infect other organs as well. The heart, kidneys, stomach, and eyes are among the organs affected.

Scientists have found that this dangerous disease may infect and replicate within the salivary glands.

Brazilian researchers discovered that saliva-producing and secreting tissues can act as reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, amplifying its infectious capacity.

Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) analysed samples from three types of salivary gland obtained during a minimally invasive autopsy procedure performed on 24 patients who died from complications of Covid-19 and discovered that SARS-CoV-2 infects and replicates in the salivary glands.

The discovery, reported in an article published in the Journal of Pathology, 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, doctoral candidate at USP's Dental School.

They hypothesised that because SARS-CoV-2 is particularly infectious relative to other respiratory viruses, it may multiply in salivary gland cells and hence be present in saliva without coming into touch with nose and lung secretions.

(With inputs from agencies)