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Lung cell images show how severe the coronavirus infection is

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A new close-up view of lung cells shows how much the COVID-19-causing coronavirus proliferates when it invades the airways.

In the lab, Camilleele and colleagues, a pediatric pulmonologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, infected the cells covering the airways of the lungs with SARS-CoV-2, waited 96 hours, and then took an electron micrograph. I did. Cells containing the virus..

“When a cell is infected, it is completely taken over by the virus and produces an amazing number of viruses,” says Ele. With a laboratory dish containing about 1 million human cells, she says, the virus load can spike from about 1000 infectious viruses to 10 million in just two days. The new image was released on September 3rd New England Journal of Medicine..

The cells that line the airways and their hair-like protrusions, called cilia, help clean the airways of inhaled particles and pathogens. These types of cells are also targets for coronavirus. When infected, an “astronomical number” of viral particles is created, which can propel the particles deep into the lungs, causing pneumonia or releasing them into the air, which can infect others. There is.

“These images of virus-filled airway cells insist on using masks to limit SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of whether the individual has symptoms,” Ehre said. Says. Extensive masking helps prevent such explosive viral replication from spreading beyond a single individual.

Black-and-white microscopic image of circular coronavirus particles covering the hairy cilia of lung cells
Coronavirus particles (small, pointed spheres) cover human lung cells and their hair-like cilia in this scanning electron micrograph (left; right high-resolution view).C. Honor /NEJM 2020

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