Scientists from RWTH Uniklinik Aachen found the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infects the kidneys and contributes to tissue scarring.
The research is published in Cell Stem Cell and was conducted by Jitske Jansen et al.
The developed scar tissue in the infected kidneys may suggest a possible impact on kidney health in the long term.
The fact that the coronavirus can result in severe damage to the human body is known, and also kidneys can get infected.
But what exactly happens in the kidney as a result of the infection remains elusive until now.
In this study, the team examined the kidney tissue of COVID-19 patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
They found scarring of the tissue as compared to ICU patients with a non-COVID-19 lung infection and a control group.
Next, the researchers questioned the cause of the kidney damage. Could this be a direct effect of the virus, independent of systemic inflammation?
To investigate this, the researchers cultured mini kidneys, called organoids, in the lab. The kidney organoids are developed from stem cells and contain many different kidney cells, except for immune cells.
The kidney organoids were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and the researchers examined the direct effect of the virus on the kidney cells.
They found, in line with the COVID-19 patient tissues, scarring of the kidney organoids and accompanied signals that contribute to the scarring process.
The results are in line with the recent finding that reported kidney functional decline in over 90,000 COVID-19 survivors might be due to direct effects of the SARS-CoV2 virus on the kidney causing scar formation.
The team says kidney fibrosis, or scarring, is a serious long-term consequence that can occur virtually after any injury to the kidney and correlates with kidney function.
The current work shows kidney scarring in COVID-19 patients, which provides an explanation of why the virus might cause kidney functional decline as demonstrated in other studies.
Long-term follow-up studies will provide further insights into kidney-related pathologies caused by SARS-CoV-2.
If you care about kidney health, please read studies about unhealthy eating habits that may increase the risk of dangerous kidney disease, and how to protect against kidney disease.
For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about why processed foods trigger chronic kidney disease, and results showing this diabetes drug may help slow down chronic kidney disease.
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