Human iPSC-Derived Cardiomyocytes are Susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 Infection

bioRxiv. 2020 Apr 21;2020.04.21.051912. doi: 10.1101/2020.04.21.051912. Preprint


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 is predominantly defined by respiratory symptoms, but cardiac complications including arrhythmias, heart failure, and viral myocarditis are also prevalent. Although the systemic ischemic and inflammatory responses caused by COVID-19 can detrimentally affect cardiac function, the direct impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on human cardiomyocytes is not well-understood. We used human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) as a model system to examine the mechanisms of cardiomyocyte-specific infection by SARS-CoV-2. Microscopy and immunofluorescence demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 can enter and replicate within hiPSC-CMs, localizing at perinuclear locations within the cytoplasm. Viral cytopathic effect induced hiPSC-CM apoptosis and cessation of beating after 72 hours of infection. These studies show that SARS-CoV-2 can infect hiPSC-CMs in vitro , establishing a model for elucidating the mechanisms of infection and potentially a cardiac-specific antiviral drug screening platform.

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