Chinese scientists have revealed that COVID-19 infections significantly accelerate the aging of lung tissue, especially in the elderly.
A report by the Science and Technology Daily showed that the main cause of death of COVID-19 patients was respiratory failure caused by severe lung injury.
To determine which parts of the lungs were damaged by the virus, a joint Chinese research team analyzed a variety of cells, including immune cells, in lung tissue from autopsy samples of elderly COVID-19 patients.
According to their research results published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, some biomarkers of cellular senescence and levels of inflammatory factors in the lung cells increased significantly.
"We saw apoptosis and shedding of long epithelial cells," said Liu Guanghui, a member of the team from the Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The research also revealed that the active substances, which originally supported the normal functions of alveoli, on cell surfaces also reduced, leading to the degeneration of some basic respiratory functions of alveoli.
Besides the lungs, COVID-19 may also accelerate other organs' aging after attacking them, Liu said, adding that related research is underway.