Many people who develop Covid-19 also develop kidney damage; people claim that Covid-19 causes human kidney damage, but it is unclear whether this is a direct result of viral infection, a result of another condition, or the body’s response to the infection.
In order to investigate the effects of Covid-19 on kidney health, researchers studied human kidney cells in the lab. The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).
Many people who develop Covid-19 develop kidney damage, but it is unclear whether this is a direct result of the viral infection or a result of another condition or the body’s response to the infection.
A team led by Benjamin Dekel (Sheba Medical Center, Israel) investigated by cultivating human kidney cells in lab dishes and infecting them with SARS-CoV-2. They discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can infect and replicate in human kidney cells, but this usually does not result in cell death.
Kidney cells that have already been injured may be more easily infected and develop additional damage.
The cells had high levels of interferon signalling molecules prior to infection, and the infection triggered an inflammatory response that increased these molecules.
Infection of kidney cells deficient in such molecules, on the other hand, resulted in cell death, indicating a protective effect.
In these experiments, the cells were grown as a three-dimensional spheroid that mimicked the healthy kidney or as a two-dimensional layer that mimicked the cells of an acutely injured kidney.
Cells that resembled an acutely injured kidney were more vulnerable to infection and further injury, but not to cell death.
“The data indicate that it is unlikely that the virus is a primary cause of acute kidney injury seen in COVID-19 patients. It implies that if such injury takes place in the kidney by any cause, the virus might jump on the wagon to intensify it. Therefore, if we’re able to limit the common scenario of acute kidney injury in the first place, then there might be the possibility to minimize potential damage caused by the virus,” Dr. Dekel said, according to the ASN.