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Mol Neurobiol ; 59(10): 5970-5986, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1930554


We recently reported acute COVID-19 symptoms, clinical status, weight loss, multi-organ pathological changes, and animal death in a murine hepatitis virus-1 (MHV-1) coronavirus mouse model of COVID-19, which were similar to that observed in humans with COVID-19. We further examined long-term (12 months post-infection) sequelae of COVID-19 in these mice. Congested blood vessels, perivascular cavitation, pericellular halos, vacuolation of neuropils, pyknotic nuclei, acute eosinophilic necrosis, necrotic neurons with fragmented nuclei, and vacuolation were observed in the brain cortex 12 months post-MHV-1 infection. These changes were associated with increased reactive astrocytes and microglia, hyperphosphorylated TDP-43 and tau, and a decrease in synaptic protein synaptophysin-1, suggesting the possible long-term impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on defective neuronal integrity. The lungs showed severe inflammation, bronchiolar airway wall thickening due to fibrotic remodeling, bronchioles with increased numbers of goblet cells in the epithelial lining, and bronchiole walls with increased numbers of inflammatory cells. Hearts showed severe interstitial edema, vascular congestion and dilation, nucleated red blood cells (RBCs), RBCs infiltrating between degenerative myocardial fibers, inflammatory cells and apoptotic bodies and acute myocyte necrosis, hypertrophy, and fibrosis. Long-term changes in the liver and kidney were less severe than those observed in the acute phase. Noteworthy, the treatment of infected mice with a small molecule synthetic peptide which prevents the binding of spike protein to its respective receptors significantly attenuated disease progression, as well as the pathological changes observed post-long-term infection. Collectively, these findings suggest that COVID-19 may result in long-term, irreversible changes predominantly in the brain, lung, and heart.

COVID-19 , Murine hepatitis virus , Animals , COVID-19/complications , Disease Progression , Humans , Mice , Murine hepatitis virus/physiology , Necrosis , SARS-CoV-2
Viruses ; 13(9)2021 08 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1374535


Infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the global COVID-19 pandemic, causes a respiratory illness that can severely impact other organ systems and is possibly precipitated by cytokine storm, septic shock, thrombosis, and oxidative stress. SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals may be asymptomatic or may experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms with or without pneumonia. The mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 infects humans are largely unknown. Mouse hepatitis virus 1 (MHV-1)-induced infection was used as a highly relevant surrogate animal model for this study. We further characterized this animal model and compared it with SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans. MHV-1 inoculated mice displayed death as well as weight loss, as reported earlier. We showed that MHV-1-infected mice at days 7-8 exhibit severe lung inflammation, peribronchiolar interstitial infiltration, bronchiolar epithelial cell necrosis and intra-alveolar necrotic debris, alveolar exudation (surrounding alveolar walls have capillaries that are dilated and filled with red blood cells), mononuclear cell infiltration, hyaline membrane formation, the presence of hemosiderin-laden macrophages, and interstitial edema. When compared to uninfected mice, the infected mice showed severe liver vascular congestion, luminal thrombosis of portal and sinusoidal vessels, hepatocyte degeneration, cell necrosis, and hemorrhagic changes. Proximal and distal tubular necrosis, hemorrhage in interstitial tissue, and the vacuolation of renal tubules were observed. The heart showed severe interstitial edema, vascular congestion, and dilation, as well as red blood cell extravasation into the interstitium. Upon examination of the MHV-1 infected mice brain, we observed congested blood vessels, perivascular cavitation, cortical pericellular halos, vacuolation of neuropils, darkly stained nuclei, pyknotic nuclei, and associated vacuolation of the neuropil in the cortex, as well as acute eosinophilic necrosis and necrotic neurons with fragmented nuclei and vacuolation in the hippocampus. Our findings suggest that the widespread thrombotic events observed in the surrogate animal model for SARS-CoV-2 mimic the reported findings in SARS-CoV-2 infected humans, representing a highly relevant and safe animal model for the study of the pathophysiologic mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 for potential therapeutic interventions.

Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Murine hepatitis virus/physiology , Animals , Biomarkers , Biopsy , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Coronavirus Infections/mortality , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Genome, Viral , Humans , Immunohistochemistry , Liver Function Tests , Mice , Mortality , Organ Specificity , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Viral Load