SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Alone May Cause COVID-19 Lung Damage – Even Without the Presence of Intact Virus

Lung Tissue and SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein

Using a newly developed mouse model, researchers found that exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein alone was enough to induce COVID-19-like symptoms including severe inflammation in the lungs. The left images show healthy mouse lung tissue while the right images show tissue from mouse lungs exposed to the spike protein. Credit: Pavel Solopov, Old Dominion University

New mouse model makes it easier and safer to study COVID-19 lung injury.

Using a newly developed mouse model of acute lung injury, researchers found that exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein alone was enough to induce COVID-19-like symptoms including severe inflammation of the lungs.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is covered in tiny spike proteins. These proteins bind with receptors on our cells, starting a process that allows the virus to release its genetic material into a healthy cell.

“Our findings show that the SARS-CoV2 spike protein causes lung injury even without the presence of intact virus,” said Pavel Solopov, PhD, DVM, research assistant professor at the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics at Old Dominion University. “This previously unknown mechanism could cause symptoms before substantial viral replication occurs.”

Solopov presented the new research at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting during the virtual Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, held April 27-30.

Studying SARS-CoV-2 can be challenging because experiments involving the intact virus requires a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory. To overcome this hurdle, the researchers created a new model of acute lung injury that utilizes transgenic mice that express the human receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in their lungs.

“Our mouse model dramatically reduces the danger of doing this type of research by allowing COVID-19 lung injury to be studied without using the intact, live virus,” said Solopov. “This will greatly increase and diversify the ability to do COVID-19 research. Our model will also likely be useful for studying other coronaviruses.”

The researchers injected the genetically modified mice with a segment of the spike protein and analyzed their response 72 hours later. Another group of mice received only saline to serve as a control.

The researchers found that the genetically modified mice injected with the spike protein exhibited COVID-19-like symptoms that included severe inflammation, an influx of white blood cells into their lungs, and evidence of a cytokine storm — an immune response in which the body starts to attack its own cells and tissues rather than just fighting off the virus. The mice that only received saline remained normal.

“These findings show that the genetically modified mouse together with just a segment of the spike protein can be used to study SARS-CoV-2 lung injury,” said Solopov. “We can use this tool to develop a better understanding of how the spike protein causes lung symptoms — even without the intact virus — in order to develop new targets and therapeutics for COVID-19.”

The researchers plan to continue this line of investigation by using the new mouse model to study the effectiveness of several drugs in reducing the severity of acute lung injury and COVID-19.

Reference: “R4183 – Single intratracheal exposure to SARS-CoV-2 S1 spike protein induces acute lung injury in K18-hACE2 transgenic mice” by Pavel Solopov, DVM, PhD, Experimental Biology 2021.

9 Comments on "SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Alone May Cause COVID-19 Lung Damage – Even Without the Presence of Intact Virus"

  1. This article appears to be saying the spike protein, all by itself, causes Covid19 symptoms. “….the spike protein exhibited COVID-19-like symptoms that included severe inflammation, an influx of white blood cells into their lungs, and evidence of a cytokine storm–” ALL WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF AN INTACT VIRUS!!!

    If the genetic “vaccine” causes the body to produce massive amounts of this SAME spike protein, those vaccinated with it could suffer the same symptoms and dire effects!

    Does anyone understand what is being said here? Anyone?

  2. To Ision: No the article says that they now can experiment on mice without having to use the whole (contagious) virus. This means the researchers can try out new therapies without having expensive labs. It’s a good thing.

    • They are experimenting on humans- none of the vaccines are FDA approved. You may think you did the research before taking the jab but it turns out- you are the research! This means that the drug companies can make billions without worrying about liability and that’s a good thing…for them.

  3. I don’t understand the article in context..The spike protein was introduced in the mice via trachea…But there’s no larger context, no conclusion drawn..Definitely a premature publication..It would help an anxious public to be able to read articles that are well constructed, written..

  4. Actually I take that back..The spike protein caused inflammation and illness…As the commentator said above his take is that these researchers found an easier way to study the virus with less risk and cost which is good, and may be the whole point of the article..Still this article can be easily be misconstrued by an anxious Covid fatigued public who refuses to vaccinate..

  5. Regarding Ision’s comment- what is the qualitative difference among introducing the spike protein via infection, direct injection or a jab that induces muscular protein production? Nobody knows…

  6. LetsLookforTheFacts | May 3, 2021 at 6:26 am | Reply

    For the confused and for those who find this article lacking, here you can find more information from the researcher: https://www.eventscribe.net/2021/EB2021/index.asp?presTarget=1644160

    To to sum it up, the mice were genetically engineered to be more responsive to the protein spike, the protein spike was injected into their trachea at doses 2ml/kg(body kg).

    Any kind of fear regarding protein spike based vaccines is baseless as the dosage of eg: pfizer vaccine is 0.3 ml

  7. Dennis Patino | May 4, 2021 at 3:03 pm | Reply

    One dose of mRNA vaccine induced trillions of Spike protein enough to damage the lungs, attack blood vessels and create vascular diseases.

  8. Obscuramus | May 6, 2021 at 8:33 am | Reply

    If we can isolate the spike protein itself, why use mRNA tech at all?

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