SARS-CoV-2 productively infects human gut enterocytes

Mart M Lamers, Joep Beumer, Jelte van der Vaart, Kèvin Knoops, Jens Puschhof, Tim I Breugem, Raimond B G Ravelli, J Paul van Schayck, Anna Z Mykytyn, Hans Q Duimel, Elly van Donselaar, Samra Riesebosch, Helma J H Kuijpers, Debby Schippers, Willine J van de Wetering, Miranda de Graaf, Marion Koopmans, Edwin Cuppen, Peter J Peters, Bart L HaagmansHans Clevers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can cause coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an influenza-like disease that is primarily thought to infect the lungs with transmission through the respiratory route. However, clinical evidence suggests that the intestine may present another viral target organ. Indeed, the SARS-CoV-2 receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is highly expressed on differentiated enterocytes. In human small intestinal organoids (hSlOs), enterocytes were readily infected by SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, as demonstrated by confocal and electron microscopy. Enterocytes produced infectious viral particles, whereas messenger RNA expression analysis of hSlOs revealed induction of a generic viral response program. Therefore, the intestinal epithelium supports SARS-CoV-2 replication, and hSlOs serve as an experimental model for coronavirus infection and biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-54
Number of pages5
Issue number6499
Early online date1 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


  • ACE2


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