A cautionary perspective regarding the isolation and serial propagation of SARS-CoV-2 in Vero cells

NPJ Vaccines. 2021 Jun 17;6(1):83. doi: 10.1038/s41541-021-00346-z.


An array of SARS-CoV-2 virus variants have been isolated, propagated and used in in vitro assays, in vivo animal studies and human clinical trials. Observations of working stocks of SARS-CoV-2 suggest that sequential propagation in Vero cells leads to critical changes in the region of the furin cleavage site, which significantly reduce the value of the working stock for critical research studies. Serially propagating SARS-CoV-2 in Vero E6 cells leads to rapid increases in genetic variants while propagation in other cell lines (e.g. Vero/hSLAM) appears to mitigate this risk thereby improving the overall genetic stability of working stocks. From these observations, investigators are urged to monitor genetic variants carefully when propagating SARS-CoV-2 in Vero cells.