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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 13, 2023  2 months, 1 week, 4 days, 17 hours, 1 minute ago

BREAKING COVID-19 News! SARS-CoV-2 Hides In The Body Via Extracellular Vesicles And Reactivates Later While Constantly Testing Negative!

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BREAKING COVID-19 News! SARS-CoV-2 Hides In The Body Via Extracellular Vesicles And Reactivates Later While Constantly Testing Negative!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 13, 2023  2 months, 1 week, 4 days, 17 hours, 1 minute ago
COVID-19 News: The relentless global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth numerous challenges, and the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, continues to reveal intriguing facets of its behavior. Recent research has unveiled a potential reservoir of the virus that may contribute to its persistence and reoccurrence: extracellular vesicles (EVs). These microscopic particles, released by cells, have been found to harbor SARS-CoV-2 RNA even in individuals who test negative through standard reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) methods.


 
Hidden Reservoirs and Recurrent Infections
The study covered in this COVID-19 News report, was conducted by researchers from the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in New Delhi, India, who delved into the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within EVs. Their findings indicated that 85% of patients with a positive baseline RT-PCR showed SARS-CoV-2 RNA inside EVs. However, many who subsequently tested negative still had high loads of EVs with the SARS-CoV-2 in them! This not only reveals a hidden reservoir of the virus but also raises questions about the accuracy of conventional testing methods.
 
The intriguing aspect arises when examining individuals who, according to conventional tests, appear virus-free. The research demonstrated that even those with negative COVID-19 test results continued to show virus persistence in EVs upon follow-up. This suggests a potential source for recurrent infections and challenges the conventional understanding of the virus's clearance after initial infection.
 
Transmission via EVs
Notably, the study went a step further by showcasing that these infected EVs have the capacity to transmit the virus to previously unaffected cells in laboratory settings. This newfound route of transmission is significant, as it challenges the conventional understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 spreads and highlights potential gaps in our current diagnostic capabilities.
 
The Prolonged and High Viral Load in EVs
The persistence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs, even after clearance in respiratory samples, is a key finding that merits attention. The study observed that the mean viral load decreased in nasal swabs on days 7 and 14 compared to baseline, but no such decrease was observed in EVs. This highlights a potential reservoir within EVs that may contribute to the prolonged detection of the virus.
 
Furthermore, the research indicated that patients with chronic liver disease (CLD) exhibited significantly prolonged and high viral loads in EVs on day 14 compared with COVID-19 patients without CLD. This raises concerns about the impact of underlying conditions on the persistence of the virus and emphasizes the need for tailored approaches in managing COVID-19 in individuals with comorbidities.
 
Implications for Diagnosis and Management
The presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs not only in respiratory samples but also in plasma opens up new avenues for diagnostic approaches beyond the respiratory tract. The ability to detect viral RNA within EVs may offer a more sensitive and rapid diagnostic method, potentially revolutionizing the identification of individuals with persistent or recurrent infections.
 
The lead author of the study, Dr Sukriti Baweja, underscores the urgency to explore alternative diagnostic methods based on the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs. This could significantly enhance our ability to detect and manage COVID-19 infections more effectively, particularly in cases where conventional testing methods may fall short.
 
Understanding Viral Persistence and Recurrence
The study's findings suggest that the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs may play a crucial role in determining ongoing inflammation and the clinical course of individuals with undetectable SARS-CoV-2. This information is particularly relevant in the management of patients with CLD, where higher levels of EVs associated with endothelial cells and hepatocytes were observed.
 
The ability of infected EVs to transmit the virus to naive cells in vitro further underscores the potential role of EV-associated RNAs in viral reactivation. This prompts a critical reevaluation of the mechanisms behind viral persistence and recurrence, especially in patients with underlying health conditions. The study findings can also help explain the manifestation of various symptoms and health issues seen in Long COVID and even help explain the genomic evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus!
 
Addressing Urgent Questions
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, urgent questions regarding the risk of reactivation or recurrence in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia remain unanswered. Current detection tools, prone to occasional false negatives, may not fully capture the complexity of the virus's behavior. The identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs sheds light on a previously unrecognized form of viral presence, calling for more precise diagnostic tests.
 
The study highlights that even in patients who have recovered from COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in EVs after 14 days, suggesting a potential for prolonged association with these vesicles. The fluctuating results of SARS-CoV-2 RNA tests in such cases may be attributed to the lack of a precise understanding of the contagious period of COVID-19, reinforcing the need for further research.
 
Future Directions and Public Health Implications
While the study lacks longitudinal follow-up to determine how long SARS-CoV-2 RNA remains inside EVs, it serves as a groundbreaking step toward understanding the recurrence of COVID-19 and the role of EVs in viral persistence. The identification of SARS-CoV-2 in EVs, even in patients with negative RT-PCR results, points to a potential avenue for future research.
 
Developing rapid and precise diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 in EVs becomes an urgent public health need, considering the implications for both general COVID-19 cases and those with underlying liver conditions. The ability to decipher the alternative form of infection and transmission of COVID-19 through EVs may pave the way for newer and better prognostic tools to detect the virus.
 
Conclusion
In conclusion, the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs adds a new layer of complexity to the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the virus's persistence and recurrence in extracellular vesicles presents an opportunity to refine diagnostic methods and improve the management of both typical and high-risk cases. As researchers delve deeper into the intricacies of viral behavior, the identification of hidden reservoirs within EVs may prove instrumental in developing more effective strategies for combating COVID-19 and preventing its resurgence. The urgent public health need for rapid and precise diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 in EVs underscores the importance of continued research in this crucial area.
 
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Liver Research.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2542568423000491
 
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