Novel human coronavirus infection pathophysiology

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aditya Govindavarjhulla, M.B.B.S. [2]



  • The cases occurring in the same family raises the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission. Alternatively, it is possible that the infected family members were exposed to the same source of infection, for example, in a household or workplace.
  • There is currently no direct evidence that the human cases were exposed through direct contact with animals.
  • The route taken by this coronavirus to infect humans is still not clear. It could, for example, be carried by intermediate animal hosts, or in foodstuffs contaminated by the faeces of bats or other infected animals.

Cytopathic Effects

The virus replicated readily in cell culture, producing cytopathic effects of rounding, detachment, and syncytium formation. The virus represents a novel betacoronavirus species. The closest known relatives are bat coronaviruses HKU4 and HKU5. [1]

This coronavirus seems to differ from the SARS virus in some important ways. SARS virus binds to the ACE-2 receptor on human cells deep in the lungs, it causes serious disease in the lower respiratory tract but is relatively difficult to contract and is not easily spread by coughing or sneezing. The researchers have determined that the new coronavirus does not bind to the ACE-2 receptor, but declined to elaborate on which receptor it does use. But ruling out the ACE-2 receptor has immediate practical implications all the reagents and therapeutic strategies developed for the SARS virus will be of little use.[2]

The same team of researchers also found that cells from bats, pigs and humans can all be infected in the lab with the coronavirus. This suggests that it can spread among mammals and that it might jump readily between mammal species.


The partial genetic sequences of a virus isolated from bats match the coronavirus found in humans.


  1. Zaki AM, van Boheemen S, Bestebroer TM, Osterhaus AD, Fouchier RA (2012). "Isolation of a novel coronavirus from a man with pneumonia in Saudi Arabia". The New England Journal of Medicine. 367 (19): 1814–20. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1211721. PMID 23075143. Retrieved 2012-12-29. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. "Clusters of coronavirus cases put scientists on alert : Nature News & Comment". Retrieved 2012-12-29.

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