New coronavirus could cause liver damage to bile ducts in patients, study says

“For patients with new coronary pneumonia, specialist care for abnormal liver function should be provided during hospitalization and shortly after treatment. On February 4th, the hepatology and transplant team of the Liver Cancer Research Institute of Sun Yat-sen Hospital, affiliated with Fudan University, published a photo entitled “Specific ACE2 Expression in Cholangiocytes May Cause Liver After After 2019-nCoV Infection” research paper.

The paper shows that liver dysfunction in patients with pneumonia with the new coronavirus infection may not be due to the virus binding to liver cells, but rather to cell dysfunction caused by the combination of the virus and bile duct cells, as well as other causes, such as drug-induced and systemic inflammatory reactions caused by liver damage.

New coronavirus could cause liver damage to bile ducts in patients, study says

The results suggest that during treatment, health care providers need to focus on liver abnormalities in hospitalized and first-time patients with new coronary pneumonia, especially those related to the function of bile duct cells, and provide specialized care, the researchers said.

The paper says the newly identified coronavirus 2019-nCoV poses a major public health threat since December 2019. ACE2 (angiotensin conversion enzyme II) is the host cell receptor of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS), and the path of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) into the cell is the same as that of THE SARS coronavirus, i.e. through ace2 cell receptors. It is worth noting that in addition to the respiratory system, a large number of SARS and 2019-nCoV patients also show edified signs of liver damage to varying degrees, the mechanism and significance of which has not yet been determined.

The liver is one of the largest organs in vertebrates and is often exposed to food antigens, viruses and bacteria that have the potential to respond to inflammation. Liver damage is caused by a variety of factors, such as exposure to toxins, excessive drinking, bile obstruction, viral infection, etc.

The team of the Institute of Liver Cancer at Sun Yat-sen Hospital, affiliated with Fudan University, used single-cell RNA-seq data from two separate queues to evaluate the specific expression of ace2 cell type in healthy liver tissue and to identify specific expression in bile duct cells.

The study found that because ACE2 can mediate 2019-nCoV and SARS infections, the new coronavirus may bind directly to ACE2-positive bile duct cells, but not necessarily with liver cells, at least not through ACE2 receptors targeted liver cells.

Bile duct cells have a variety of functions and play a key role in liver regeneration and immune response. As a result, potential damage to bile duct cells in 2019-nCoV may have an impact on the liver.

The team also found that liver abnormalities in patients with pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus may be caused by drugs used in the rapy, or by a systemic inflammatory response caused by pneumonia. The team showed that they did not rule out the possibility that very low levels of ACE2 expression detected in liver cells were due to technical limitations.