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Papers of the Week

2023 Jan 31

J Neurovirol

Coronavirus infection in chemosensory cells.


Donadoni M, Kaminski R, Liao S, Al Janabi S, Margolskee RF, Ozdener M H, Sariyer IK
J Neurovirol. 2023 Jan 31.
PMID: 36719595.


Clinical manifestations of human coronavirus (HCoV)-related diseases are mostly related to the respiratory system, although secondary complications such as headache, anosmia, ageusia, and myalgia have been reported. HCoV infection and replication in chemosensory cells associated with ageusia and anosmia is poorly understood. Here, we characterized HCoV-OC43 and SARS-CoV-2 infection in two types of chemosensory cells, olfactory and taste cells, with their unique molecular and histological characteristics. We first assessed HCoV-OC43 infection in in vitro cultured human olfactory epithelial cells (hOECs) and fungiform taste papilla (HBO) cells. Interestingly, while both cell types were susceptible to HCoV-OC43 infection, viral replication rates were significantly reduced in HBO cells compared to hOECs. More interestingly, while culture media from hOECs was able to produce secondary infection in Vero cells, there was very limited secondary infection from HBO cells, suggesting that HBO cells may not be able to release infectious virus. On the other hand, unlike HCoV-OC43, SARS-CoV-2 showed comparable levels of viral infection rates in both hOECs and HBO cells. Furthermore, our RT-qPCR-based gene array studies revealed that several key genes involved in taste and olfactory functions were significantly altered by SARS-CoV-2 infection. These results may suggest a possible mechanism associated with chemosensory symptoms, such as anosmia and ageusia in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2.