UKE study identifies Sars-Cov-2 pathogen as multi-organ virus

Novel coronavirus attacks lungs and other organs - explanation for spectrum of symptoms?
18 May 2020
Tobias Huber, scientist at UKE

The novel coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2) is not purely a respiratory virus as it attacks multiple organs including the kidneys, heart and brain, scientists at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) have concluded in a study published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a UKE press release said Friday (May 14, 2020).

Sars-Cov-2 as a multi-organ virus

"Sars-Cov-2 is a multi-organ virus that affects numerous organs. This could be an explanation for the sometimes broad spectrum of symptoms that are seen in COVID-19 infections. After the respiratory tract, the kidneys in particular are also affected by SARS-CoV-2 pathogens," said the manager of the study, Prof. Dr. Tobias B. Huber, Director of the III Medical Clinic and Polyclinic. This might explain the "extremely high rate of up to 50 per cent of acute kidney failure in COViD-19 infections," Huber added.

Virus found in kidneys, heart and liver

Experts on kidneys, microbiologists and forensic doctors at UKE had analysed the results of autopsies on 27 people who died of a COVID-19 for the study. The scientists detected the Sars Cov-2 pathogen in the lungs, throat, heart, liver, brain and kidneys, The highest concentrations of the virus per cell were found in the respiratory tract, followed by the kidney, heart, liver, brain and blood. The results have prompted urine tests for COVID-19 infections at the onset of the disease. Scientists at UKE have also been investigating the severity and frequency of COVID-19 infections among 6,000 children and adolescents since mid-May as part of the C19.Child Study.