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Tuesday / June 25.
HomeminewsCOVID-19 Virus Can Breach Retinal Barrier

COVID-19 Virus Can Breach Retinal Barrier

United States researchers have found that the virus responsible for COVID-19 can penetrate the blood-retinal barrier (BRB).

The finding could have significant insights for understanding the impact of the virus on eye health.

While SARS-CoV-2 is well known for its respiratory effects, the virus has also been observed causing a range of ocular abnormalities and vision impairment in COVID-19 patients.

The presence of viral remnants in various ocular tissues and fluids from COVID-19 patients has led to an assumption that SARS-CoV-2 may be transmitted through the eyes.

…findings from this study shed light on the role of BRB in SARS-CoV-2 ocular tropism and the role of eyes in viral transmission

However, the researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 ocular tropism is through cells lining the BRB. SARS-CoV-2 not only infects the various parts of the eye via systemic exposure but also induces a hyperinflammatory immune and antiviral response in the retina, the researchers said.

“Unexpectedly, the corneal epithelium was found to be resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and ocular exposure of SARS-CoV-2 failed to cause lung pathology and moribund illness.

“Cells lining the BRB showed induced expression of viral entry receptors and enhanced susceptibility towards SARS-CoV-2-induced cell death, which is further potentiated with comorbidities such as hyperglycemia.

“Our findings from this study shed light on the role of BRB in SARS-CoV-2 ocular tropism and the role of eyes in viral transmission,” the researchers said.

The study was published in PLOS Pathogens.1

Reference

  1. Monu, M., Ahmad, F., Singh, P.K. et al., SARS-CoV-2 infects cells lining the blood-retinal barrier and induces a hyperinflammatory immune response in the retina via systemic exposure, PLOS Pathogens (2024). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1012156.