Study examines effects of COVID-19 on human kidney cells

Strong points

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 can infect and replicate in human kidney cells, but this usually does not lead to cell death.
  • Kidney cells that already show lesion characteristics may be more easily infected and develop additional lesions.

Washington, DC (June 10, 2021) – Researchers have studied human kidney cells in the lab to examine the effects of COVID-19 on kidney health. The results appear in an upcoming issue of JASN.

Many people who develop COVID-19 also experience kidney damage, but it is not known whether this is a direct result of a viral infection or a consequence of another condition or the child’s response. body to infection. To investigate, a team led by Benjamin Dekel, MD, PhD (Sheba Medical Center, Israel) grew human kidney cells in lab dishes and infected them with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The researchers found that although the virus that causes COVID-19 can enter, infect, and replicate in human adult kidney cells, it does not usually lead to cell death. Prior to infection, cells contained high levels of interferon signaling molecules, and the infection stimulated an inflammatory response that increased these molecules. In contrast, infection of kidney cells deficient in these molecules resulted in cell death, suggesting a protective effect.

The cells from these experiments were grown as a three-dimensional spheroid that mimics a healthy kidney or a two-dimensional layer that mimics cells from a severely injured kidney. Cells that mimicked a severely injured kidney were more prone to infection and further injury, but not cell death.

“The data indicate that the virus is unlikely to be a primary cause of acute kidney injury seen in COVID-19 patients. This implies that if such injury occurs in the kidney for any cause, the virus could jump on the wagon to step up Therefore, if we are able to limit the common scenario of acute kidney injury in the first place, then it might be possible to minimize the potential damage from the virus, ”explained Dr. Dekel.


Co-authors of the Sheba Medical Center and Israel Biological Research Institute study include Dorit Omer, PhD, Oren Pleniceanu, MD, PhD, Yehudit Gnatek, MSc, Michael Namestnikov, Osnat Cohen-Zontag, PhD, Sanja Goldberg, PhD, Yehudit Eden Friedman, MD, Nehemya Friedman, PhD, Michal Mandelboim, PhD, Einat B. Vitner, PhD, Hagit Achdout, PhD, Roy Avraham, PhD, Eran Zahavy, PhD, Tomer Israely, PhD, and Haim Mayan , MD.

Disclosures: Dr Dekel is co-founder and shareholder of KidneyCure Ltd.

The article, titled “Human Kidney Spheroids and Monolayers Provide Insights into SARS-CoV-2 Renal Interactions”, will appear online at http: // / on June 10, 2021, doi: 10.1681 / ASN.2020111546.

The contents of this article do not reflect the views or opinions of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and opinions expressed herein lies entirely with the authors. ASN does not offer medical advice. All the content of ASN publications is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to cover all the uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or possible adverse effects. This content should not be used in a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about any medical condition or before taking any medication, changing your diet, or starting or stopping any treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of the information accessible via ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

Since 1966, ASN has led the fight to prevent, treat and cure kidney disease across the world by training healthcare professionals and scientists, advancing research and innovation, communicating new knowledge and advocating for the highest quality patient care. ASN has more than 21,000 members representing 131 countries. For more information visit http: // www.asn-online.organization.

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About Hector Hedgepeth

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