SARS-CoV-2 infection of human iPSC-derived cardiac cells reflects cytopathic features in hearts of patients with COVID-19

Sci Transl Med. 2021 Apr 21;13(590):eabf7872. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abf7872. Epub 2021 Mar 15.


Although coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) causes cardiac dysfunction in up to 25% of patients, its pathogenesis remains unclear. Exposure of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived heart cells to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) revealed productive infection and robust transcriptomic and morphological signatures of damage, particularly in cardiomyocytes. Transcriptomic disruption of structural genes corroborates adverse morphologic features, which included a distinct pattern of myofibrillar fragmentation and nuclear disruption. Human autopsy specimens from patients with COVID-19 reflected similar alterations, particularly sarcomeric fragmentation. These notable cytopathic features in cardiomyocytes provide insights into SARS-CoV-2-induced cardiac damage, offer a platform for discovery of potential therapeutics, and raise concerns about the long-term consequences of COVID-19 in asymptomatic and severe cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Heart / virology
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / virology*
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / virology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity*
  • Transcriptome