A recent study conducted by the University of Iowa has discovered that a repurposed mouse model can exhibit symptoms of both severe and mild COVID-19, including loss of smell. The study also found that convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can protect mice against the disease. These findings suggest that the K18-hACE2 mouse model can aid in understanding the various symptoms of COVID-19 and in developing and testing new treatments.
SARS’ Mouse Model for Understanding COVID-19
Researchers at the University of Iowa realized that a mouse model they had created to study SARS ten years ago could be a valuable tool for understanding the new COVID-19 disease and testing potential treatments. In a recent study, they provided a comprehensive analysis of the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in these K18-hACE2 mice, which are now easily accessible for research purposes.
Anosmia in Mice
One interesting finding from the study was that the infected mice experienced a loss of smell, known as anosmia. This symptom is also observed in many COVID-19 patients but is not well understood. The researchers discovered that K18-hACE2 mice treated with convalescent plasma and subsequently infected with SARS-CoV-2 did not develop severe illness but exhibited loss of smell as a significant symptom. Further examination revealed that anosmia resulted from primary infection and damage to a specific type of cell that supports the function of neighboring sensory neurons responsible for detecting smell.
Unlocking New Possibilities
According to Professor Perlman from the University of Iowa, this mouse model provides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how the loss of smell occurs in COVID-19 patients. By studying this process, researchers hope to develop improved treatments for individuals experiencing this symptom.