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J Virol. 2011 Apr;85(8):4025-30. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02292-10. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Epithelial cells lining salivary gland ducts are early target cells of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection in the upper respiratory tracts of rhesus macaques.

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  • 1AIDS Institute, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China.

Abstract

The shedding of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) into saliva droplets plays a critical role in viral transmission. The source of high viral loads in saliva, however, remains elusive. Here we investigate the early target cells of infection in the entire array of respiratory tissues in Chinese macaques after intranasal inoculations with a single-cycle pseudotyped virus and a pathogenic SARS-CoV. We found that angiotensin-converting enzyme 2-positive (ACE2(+)) cells were widely distributed in the upper respiratory tract, and ACE2(+) epithelial cells lining salivary gland ducts were the early target cells productively infected. Our findings also have implications for SARS-CoV early diagnosis and prevention.

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