SARS-CoV-2 Replicates in the Gastrointestinal Epithelium
Since the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was identified in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, the virus has spread to 32 countries, infecting more than 80,000 people and causing more than 2600 deaths globally. The viral infection causes a series of respiratory illnesses, including severe respiratory syndrome, indicating that the virus most likely infects respiratory epithelial cells and spreads mainly via respiratory tract from human to human. However, viral target cells and organs have not been fully determined, impeding our understanding of the pathogenesis of the viral infection and viral transmission routes. According to a recent case report, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in a stool specimen,1 raising the question of viral gastrointestinal infection and a fecal-oral transmission route. It has been proven that SARS-CoV-2 uses angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) 2 as a viral receptor for entry process.2 ACE2 messenger RNA is highly expressed and stabilized by the neutral amino acid transporter B0AT1 (SLC6A19) in gastrointestinal system,3,4 providing a prerequisite for SARS-CoV-2 infection. To further investigate the clinical significance of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in feces, we examined the viral RNA in feces from 71 patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection during their hospitalizations. The viral RNA and viral nucleocapsid protein were examined in gastrointestinal tissues from 1 of the patients.
- Gastrointestinal System
- Mucosal Infections