Vol 6, No 3 (2021)
Review article
Published online: 2021-09-07

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Does SARS-CoV-2 infect cardiomyocytes directly? Yes, it does

Anna Ryszewska1, Paweł Niewiadomski1
Medical Research Journal 2021;6(3):237-244.


Introduction: COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) appeared in Wuhan, China, at the ending of 2019. The SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes the illness has spread all over the world and caused a pandemic. The first target of the virus is the respiratory tract; however, the COVID-19 may present different types of course. It is known that the SARS-CoV-2 affects multiple organs, including the heart. Cardiac manifestations of COVID-19 include myocarditis, myocardial infarction, heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, arrhythmia. The authors know about the patients who had only cardiovascular complications due to the COVID-19. Several mechanisms of heart injury are considered and so is the direct infection.

Aim of the study: The present review aimed to find out if the SARS-CoV-2 may infect the heart directly and in which mechanism. The review is an information collection considering the SARS-CoV-2 impact on the heart.

Material and methods: The authors have made research using the PubMed search engine to find studies and case reports considering the cardiovascular implications of COVID-19. The signs and symptoms in patients with cardiac implications were studied. The authors have also checked if studies explaining does the SARS-CoV-2 affects the heart directly were conducted.

Results: SARS-CoV-2 brings several cardiovascular signs such as changes in imaging tests and elevation of several laboratory markers. The changes may suggest myocarditis or mimic cardiac infarction. The SARS-CoV-2 may affect cardiomyocytes indirectly by causing hypoxia and cytokine storm. As the heart tissue presents a high level of ACE2 which is the target of the virus, the SARS-CoV may infect cardiomyocytes directly. The hypothesis was confirmed in endomyocardial biopsies, autopsy, and in vitro studies.

Conclusions: The SARS-CoV-2 impacts several organs. The heart may be injured indirectly (hypoxia and cytokine storm) and directly (ACE2 present in the heart), which gives consequences in a clinical course. The direct injury was confirmed in a variety of ways.

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