According to a study that may contribute to the development of new medications to treat COVID-19 patients, heart damage is caused by the novel coronavirus infecting cardiac muscle cells, resulting in cell death that interferes with the muscle's contraction. Although studies have linked COVID-19 to heart problems such as decreased ability to pump blood since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists, including those from the Washington University School of Medicine in the United States, say it's still uncertain if these are caused directly by the virus infecting the organ or by inflammation elsewhere in the body. They used stem cells to engineer cardiac tissue and modelled how the coronavirus invaded the heart in the current report, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Basic to Translational Science.
The researchers discovered that viral infection kills not only heart muscle cells, but also the muscle fibre units that regulate heart muscle contraction. According to the researchers, cell death and the loss of heart muscle fibres will occur even when there is no inflammation. According to the findings, the coronavirus has a one-of-a-kind effect on the heart, especially in the immune cells that respond to the infection.
The immune system's T cells and B cells are on the site of infection for most other viruses that affect the heart, they said, but in the case of COVID-19, the body's immune cells called macrophages, monocytes, and dendritic cells dominate the counter response.
These immune cells, according to the researchers, are related to a chronic disease that can have long-term effects.