Coronavirus can infect inner ear, study finds

Certain types of cells in the inner ear produce the proteins needed for SARS-CoV-2 entry — a potential explanation for why some COVID-19 patients experience audiovestibular symptoms, according to research published Oct. 29 in Communications Medicine.

The study included 10 adult COVID-19 patients who developed audiovestibular symptoms such as hearing loss, tinnitus or dizziness within three weeks of their COVID-19 diagnosis. Researchers analyzed both human and mouse inner ear tissue, and generated in vitro cellular models of the human inner ear. 

They found human inner ear tissue contains the "molecular machinery to allow SARS-CoV-2 entry," including the ACE2 receptor. Findings also showed the virus can infect hair cells and Schwann cells found in the inner ear. 

"Our findings suggest that inner ear infection may underline COVID-19-associated problems with hearing and balance," researchers said. 

To view the full study, click here.


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