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European Heart Journal ; 42(SUPPL 1):3349, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1554712


Objective: SARS-CoV-2 causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and has spawned a global health crisis. Virus infection can lead to elevated markers of cardiac injury and inflammation associated with a higher risk of mortality. However, it is so far unclear whether cardiovascular damage is caused by direct virus infection or is mainly secondary due to inflammation. Recently, additional novel SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged accounting for more than 70% of all cases in Germany. To what extend these variants differ from the original strain in their pathology remains to be elucidated. Here, we investigated the effect of the novel SARS-CoV-2 variants on cardiovascular cells. Results: To study whether cardiovascular cells are permissive for SARSCoV-2, we inoculated human iPS-derived cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells from five different origins, including umbilical vein endothelial cells, coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAEC), cardiac and lung microvascular endothelial cells, or pulmonary arterial cells, in vitro with SARS-CoV-2 isolates (G614 (original strain), B.1.1.7 (British variant), B.1.351 (South African variant) and P.1 (Brazilian variant)). While the original virus strain infected iPS-cardiomyocytes and induced cell toxicity 96h post infection (290±10 cells vs. 130±10 cells;p=0.00045), preliminary data suggest a more severe infection by the novel variants. To what extend the response to the novel variants differ from the original strain is currently investigated by phosphoproteom analysis. Of the five endothelial cells studied, only human coronary artery EC took up the original virus strain, without showing viral replication and cell toxicity. Spike protein was only detected in the perinuclear region and was co-localized with calnexin-positive endosomes, which was accompanied by elevated ER-stress marker genes, such as EDEM1 (1.5±0.2-fold change;p=0.04). Infection with the novel SARS-CoV-2 variants resulted in significant higher levels of viral spike compared to the current strain. Surprisingly, viral up-take was also seen in other endothelial cell types (e.g. HUVEC). Although no viral replication was observed (850±158 viral RNA copies at day 0 vs. 197±43 viral RNA copies at day 3;p=0.01), the British SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 reduced endothelial cell numbers (0.63±0.03-fold change;p=0.0001). Conclusion: Endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes showed a distinct response to SARS-CoV-2. Whereas cardiomyocytes were permissively infected, endothelial cells took up the virus, but were resistant to viral replication. However, both cell types showed signs of increased toxicity induced by the British SARS-CoV-2 variant. These data suggest that cardiac complications observed in COVID-19 patients might at least in part be based on direct infection of cardiovascular cells. The more severe cytotoxic effects of the novel variants implicate that patients infected with the new variants should be even more closely monitored.