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Silent carriers: Long-standing SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory vesicles

Silent carriers: long-standing SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory vesicles
A schematic diagram depicting the persistence and recurrence of SARS-CoV-2 residing within extracellular vesicles. Credit: Subudhi, P.D., et al.

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has posed unprecedented challenges worldwide. While extensive efforts have focused on understanding the clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19, certain aspects of the virus behavior, such as reactivation and recurrence, remain elusive.

Recent research has shed light on a potential hidden reservoir of the virus that might contribute to its persistence and reoccurrence. Studies exploring (EVs)— released by cells—have uncovered an important piece of information: SARS-CoV-2 RNA was present in EVs in individuals who tested negative via standard RT-PCR methods.

Even for individuals deemed virus-free by conventional tests, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within EVs may indicate a potential source for recurrent infections. Moreover, these infected EVs have demonstrated the ability to transmit the virus to previously unaffected cells in laboratory settings, pointing to a previously unrecognized route of transmission.

The study was published in Liver Research.

The finding holds promise in addressing the challenges faced in COVID-19 diagnosis and management. Current diagnostic tools, while valuable, have limitations, including occasional false negatives due to factors such as sample collection technique and viral load. Detecting SARS-CoV-2 RNA within EVs might offer a more sensitive and rapid diagnostic approach, potentially aiding in identifying individuals with persistent or recurrent infections.

Furthermore, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs, not only in respiratory samples but also in plasma, enables more opportunities to understand the behavior beyond the . These insights into the underlying mechanisms of viral persistence and recurrence offer new avenues for therapeutic interventions.

"The identification of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in EVs underscores the need to explore alternative diagnostic methods that leverage this discovery, potentially revolutionizing our ability to detect and manage COVID-19 infections more effectively," says Sukriti Baweja, lead author of the study.

More information: P. Debishree Subudhi et al, Prolonged existence of SARS-CoV-2 RNAs in the extracellular vesicles of respiratory specimens from patients with negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, Liver Research (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.livres.2023.09.004

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Citation: Silent carriers: Long-standing SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory vesicles (2023, December 12) retrieved 22 April 2024 from
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