SARS-CoV-2 infection of human iPSC-derived cardiac cells reflects cytopathic features in hearts of patients with COVID-19

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Mar 2021:
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abf7872


Although coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) causes cardiac dysfunction in up to 25% of patients, its pathogenesis remains unclear. Exposure of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived heart cells to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) revealed productive infection and robust transcriptomic and morphological signatures of damage, particularly in cardiomyocytes. Transcriptomic disruption of structural genes corroborates adverse morphologic features, which included a distinct pattern of myofibrillar fragmentation and nuclear disruption. Human autopsy specimens from patients with COVID-19 reflected similar alterations, particularly sarcomeric fragmentation. These striking cytopathic features in cardiomyocytes provide insights into SARS-CoV-2-induced cardiac damage, offer a platform for discovery of potential therapeutics, and raise concerns about the long-term consequences of COVID-19 in asymptomatic as well as severe cases.

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