Scientists discover root cause of COVID-19 lung damage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The coronavirus has destroyed the lungs of millions of people since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, scientists are beginning to understand why this damage is, in some cases, permanent.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health evaluated 18 patients with lung damage caused by COVID-19. They had died in 2020 from March through July.

The scientists found essential cells, known as epithelial and endothelial cells, were damaged to the point they lost complete function. These cells are located at the barrier between the lungs and bloodstream, and are responsible for getting oxygen into the blood. Without these cells, oxygen is unable to enter the body. 

In their paper, authors say: “These findings further define the molecular features underlying the pulmonary response to SARs-CoV-2 infections and provide important insights into pathways that may be amenable to intervention.”

The authors go on to say these findings of lung and COVID-19 cell-induced responses may prove critical as research moves forward.