The University of North Carolina School of Medicine Lab of Camille Ehre, PhD, has produced high-power microscopic images that show shockingly high SARS-CoV-2 Viral load on human respiratory surfaces, ready to spread infection in infected individuals and in others.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Camille Ehr, PhD’s UNC School of Medicine laboratory, produces striking images in respiratory tract cultures of an infectious form of the SARS-CoV-2 virus produced by infected respiratory epithelial cells. New England Journal of Medicine This work is illustrated in its “Image in Medicine” section.
Ehre, a member of the UNC Marsico Lung Institute and UNC Children’s Research Institute, captured these pictures to illustrate how intense the airway’s SARS-CoV-2 infection is and can be very easily understood images. Her lab did this research in collaboration with Ralph Baric, PhD, William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology of the UNC Gillings School of Public Health, who appoints a joint faculty at the UNC Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Richard Boucher, MD, James C. Moiser is an eminent professor of medicine and director of the Marsico Lung Institute at the UNC School of Medicine.
In a laboratory setting, the researchers injected SARS-Co-V-2 virus into human bronchial epithelial cells, which were examined 96 hours later using scanning electron microscopy.
Images repainted by UNC medical student Cameron Morrison, infected cells of mucus (yellow) attached to the cilia tips (blue). Cilia are hair-like structures on the surface of airway epithelial cells that transport mucus (and trapped viruses) from the lungs. A high-power magnification image shows the structure and density of the SARS-CoV-2 virgin (red) produced by the human airway epithelium. Viruses are complete, infectious forms of viruses released on respiratory surfaces by infected host cells.
This imaging research helps to show the incredibly high number of cells produced and released inside the human respiratory system. Large viral burden is a source for the spread of infection to multiple organs of an infected person and possibly mediates high frequency COVID-19 Transmission to others. These pictures make a strong case for the use of masks by infected and uninfected individuals to limit SARS-COV-2 transmission.
Reference: “SARS-CoV-2 Infection of Airway Sales” by Camille Ehr, PhD, 3 September 2009 New England Journal of Medicine.
DOI: 10.1056 / NEJMicm2023328