Coronavirus can directly attack hormonal system

RIO — German researchers have found evidence that the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus is able to directly affect the adrenal glands and, consequently, the hormonal system. These glands can be involved in patients with severe Covid-19, but it was not known whether this was the result of a direct attack of the infection or of sepsis, the generalized inflammation it causes. The adrenals are the main sources of glucorticoids, which are crucial for dealing with sepsis.

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The study also suggests that adrenal involvement may be behind the slow recovery of some Covid-19 patients. Adrenal dysfunction can profoundly affect the body’s balance. These glands located above the kidneys and also called the adrenals produce very important hormones such as testosterone, cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine.

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In an article in the Lancet medical journal, scientists report finding proteins and genetic material from Sars-CoV-2 in the adrenal glands of people who died from Covid-19. Samples from 40 people from Germany and Switzerland were analyzed. The researchers found that 53% had signs of the virus.

In the study, Waldemar Kanczkowski, from the University of Dresden, Germany, and his team explained that the hypothesis of direct attack was high because the adrenal glands are targets of attacks by bacteria and viruses, such as Sars-CoV-1, which causes the SARS pandemic in 2002-2004.

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Sars-CoV-2 and 1 coronaviruses share the same receptors used to invade cells and abundant in the adrenals. However, the researchers point out that it is not yet possible to know whether it is the direct attack that causes adrenal gland dysfunction or whether these are the result of an inflammatory cascade. Therefore, it will be necessary to carry out studies with a larger number of patient samples.