The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, also known as SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19 was first reported in China's Wuhan city, back in late 2019. The virus outbreak was soon declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) due to its power of mutating, transmit and affecting the human body. Ever since its outbreak, many researchers have come up with studies showing how the COVID virus enters the cells of the organs inside the human body and infect them, leading to severe health conditions. However, it was in the latest study that a team of UK researchers revealed that some cells infected with the COVID-19 virus can 'explode', leading to serious damage to the lungs and other internal organs.
COVID Virus Can Trigger Inflammation
SARS-CoV-2 has been linked to causing severe respiratory distress and death in some patients infected by the virus. The virus causes severe health issues when it leads to inflammation in the cells. However, how the virus triggers inflammation is not clear.
How does COVID virus infection leads to multiple organ failure? The UK researchers have stated that multiple organ failure due to COVID infection mainly occurs because of a phenomenon called a cytokine storm. What is it? When the immune system is not functioning properly, it releases too many infection-fighting proteins called cytokines, these then start attacking healthy tissues, causing severe damage in response to Covid infection.
Talking about the cell explosion, the UK researchers said that immune cells that are majorly infected by the Covid virus can undergo a "cell explosion", also known as pyroptosis this then causes harmful inflammation in patients who become seriously unwell with the virus.
Explaining the inflammation caused by the COVID virus, the researchers said that pyroptosis kills the virus, which leads to inflammatory contents being released into the bloodstream. These inflammatory contents travel around the body, damaging the lungs and other internal organs. This study has also been published in the journal Nature.
Speaking to the media, co-author RFL consultant hepatologist Gautam Mehta, said, "The pyroptosis pathway acts as an 'alarm system'; if it senses bacterial or viral particles within the cell it leads to an 'explosion' of the cell and the release of pro-inflammatory contents. This has the benefit of eliminating the infection but can lead to severe inflammation as a result. Pyroptosis literally implies a 'fiery' mode of cell death."
You may like to read
How COVID Infects Liver?
Just like the way COVID affects the lungs of a human body, it can wreak havoc on the liver too. According to the study authors, the liver patients whose bacteria from the gut have infected their liver. In order to expel the bacteria, the liver cells undergo the same pyroptosis process, which leads to cell explosion and the release of inflammatory materials that harms the surrounding cells.
"In patients who have liver issues, this primarily occurs because of "leaky gut", so bacterial components can reach the liver from the gut, and cause pyroptosis of liver cells leading to liver failure," Mehta told IANS. He further added, "In Covid-19, it seems this process also occurs because the virus triggers pyroptosis in immune cells, which has the benefit of eliminating the virus but can lead to hyper-inflammation in some people. It is this inflammation which can lead to acute respiratory distress and multi-organ damage."