The ability of SARS-CoV to infect different species, including humans, dogs, cats, minks, ferrets, hamsters, tigers, and deer, pose a continuous threat to human and animal health. Pigs, though closely related to humans, seem to be less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. Former in vivo studies failed to demonstrate clinical signs and transmission between pigs, while later attempts using a higher infectious dose reported viral shedding and seroconversion. This study investigated species-specific cell susceptibility, virus dose-dependent infectivity, and infection kinetics, using primary human (HRECs) and porcine (PRECs) respiratory epithelial cells. Despite higher ACE2 expression in HRECs compared to PRECs, SARS-CoV-2 infected, and replicated in both PRECs and HRECs in a dose-dependent manner. Cytopathic effect was particularly more evident in PRECs than HRECs, showing the hallmark morphological signs of apoptosis. Further analysis confirmed an early and enhanced apoptotic mechanism driven through caspase 3/7 activation, limiting SARS-CoV-2 propagation in PRECs compared to HRECs. Our findings shed light on a possible mechanism of resistance of pigs to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and it may hold therapeutic value for the treatment of COVID-19.

Fuente: Cell Death Discovery

Published: 10 December 2021