The virus that causes “Covid-19” sometimes causes blood clots.
A recent study indicates that about 10% of hospitalized patients develop these complications.
Doctors are still not sure why the virus provokes this problem in severe cases, as blood clots can lead to stroke.
To get more insight into this phenomenon, Lausanne scientists have developed a microfluidic chip that resembles a human lung and replicates part of its structure to study Covid-19 infection.
This chip can preserve lung epithelial cells, blood vessel cells and immune system cells, and allow scientists to see how the virus attacks human cells and leads to the formation of blood clots.
Two mechanisms are suspected to cause this problem, one of which is the increased production of cytokines, which are proteins that play a role in transmitting immune cell signals, and the Corona virus can cause “cell storms”, that is, unequal immune reactions in the immune system that lead to damage to blood vessels It causes blood clots to form and can be fatal. The other possible mechanism is damage to the inner lining of blood vessels – or the lining – in the lungs.
The lungs contain a lot of this type of tissue, and when damaged, blood can easily clot and form clots.
So what mechanism is the culprit likely to be? To find out, physicians need to be able to watch how infection progresses in the lungs hour by hour, and this is almost impossible for living patients and not very possible in laboratory cell studies as well, since they usually contain only one type of cell and do not provide a realistic enough representation. To the entire lung system.
Scientists in Professor John McKinney’s laboratory received support from the “Covid-19” task force inside the Lausanne School, and have now taken the artificial lung device and adapted it to model the individual steps in the Corona virus attack on the lungs, as the device contains microfluidic channels that feed cells on the chip With nutrients, which are arranged to reconstitute a section of the lungs.
More specifically, the chip contains a layer of epithelial cells, or cells that coat the lungs, along with a layer of endothelial cells, or cells lining blood vessels, and the two layers are separated by a membrane.
After scientists inserted the emerging corona virus into their devices, the virus first attacked the outer layer of epithelial cells, just as it is the case in a natural infection.
Working with Dr. Jessica Sordet Desimus and her team at the Primary Tissue Facility, they found that within one day the virus reached the inner layer of endothelial cells and caused massive damage during the following days.
“There was enough damage to destroy the endothelium and expose the blood in the vessels to the air, causing clots to form, and through the lung system on a chip, we found that the virus might cause clots,” said Vivek Thacker, the study’s co-author, in a report published on Wednesday by the official website of the Federal School of Lausanne, Switzerland. “Blood by attacking the endothelium directly, however this does not mean that the cytokines do not play a role as well and make matters worse.”
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