NEW DELHI: Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur have explored the neuroinvasive nature of the COVID-19 virus highlighting that loss of smell and taste of infected patients makes their entire central nervous system (CNS) and the underlying structures in the brain more prone to viral infection.
Dr. Surajit Ghosh and his team have pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 is known to interact ith a specific human receptor known as hACE2 (human angiotensin-converting enzyme-2) which also happens to be the entry point of the virus and has an almost ubiquitous presence in most human organs ranging from lung parenchyma to nasal mucosa. The brain is also known to express this receptor.
They have attributed the loss of smell or taste to the fact that nose and mouth both are very important entry points of the virus, which then may be slowly making its way to olfactory bulb using neurons of olfactory mucosa.
“The pathway of infection of SARS-CoV-2 and its impact on various organs is an important area that would also help with the future rational approaches for therapy. The neuro-invasive nature of the virus and its effects on the senses of smell and taste are thus interesting and useful areas of investigation,” said Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secy, DST.
The publication highlights that activities like smoking could increase the chances of contracting COVID-19 infection, attributing this to the interactions and co-expression of the hACE2 receptor and the nicotinic receptor.