Coronavirus as a "multi-organ virus" affects many organs

Coronavirus as a

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Numerous organs are affected by the coronavirus

After initially discussing primarily lung damage as a typical consequence of the infection in connection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, it has now been shown that the viruses in no way affect only the respiratory tract. In a recent study, researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) have now been able to detect the virus in numerous organs and organ systems. In addition to the airways, the kidneys are particularly affected.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is not a pure respiratory virus, but rather affects many organs as a "multi-organ virus", reports the research team led by Professor Dr. Tobias B. Huber from UKE. According to the latest study results, the virus can also be found in the kidney, for example, where it could be directly responsible for the frequent damage caused by COVID-19 infection. The study results were published in the specialist magazine “New England Journal of Medicine”.

Detection in numerous organs

As part of the study, the research team led by Professor Huber analyzed the autopsy results of 27 people who died from a COVID-19 infection. The scientists were able to detect the virus not only in the lungs and throat, but also in the heart, liver, brain and kidneys. "The highest concentrations of the virus per cell were found in the airways, followed by the kidney, heart, liver, brain and blood," reports the UKE of the results.

Explanation for the wide range of symptoms?

According to Professor Huber, the fact that SARS-CoV-2 affects numerous organs could also explain the sometimes wide range of symptoms in COVID-19 (disease caused by SARS-CoV-2). “After the respiratory tract, especially the kidneys are affected by SARS-CoV-2 pathogens. This is the likely explanation for the fact that a large number of the patients have abnormalities in the urine, ”Professor Huber continued.

High rate of acute kidney failure

The high viral load in the kidneys could possibly explain the extremely high rate of up to 50 percent of acute kidney failure in COVID-19 infections, Professor Huber emphasizes. As a consequence of these results, urine tests for COVID-19 infection as a routine laboratory would now be recommended at the beginning of the disease.

Consequences of individual organ systems

"Further studies by the UKE in cooperation with other German clinics will show whether urine changes can serve as an early warning system for severe COVID-19 courses," the researchers report. In addition, one would also have to pay much more attention to secondary diseases of individual organ systems in aftercare.

Connection with previous illnesses

Furthermore, the researchers found that there is a correlation between the simultaneous existence of several diseases (co-morbidity) and the virus infection of organs. This could be an additional factor for the great influence of previous illnesses on mortality, which a research team of the UKE had already proven in a previous study. In the case of all those who had been autopsied, previous diseases such as the cardiovascular system or the lungs were found in the study. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE): UKE study: Novel corona virus affects numerous organs as a “multi-organ virus” (published May 14, 2020),
  • Victor G. Puelles, Marc Lütgehetmann, Maja T. Lindenmeyer, Jan P. Sperhake, Milagros N. Wong, Lena Allweiss, Silvia Chilla, Axel Heinemann, Nicola Wanner, Shuya Liu, Fabian Braun, Shun Lu, Susanne Pfefferle, Ann S. Schröder, Carolin Edler, Oliver Gross, Markus Glatzel, Dominic Wichmann, Thorsten Wiech, Stefan Kluge, Klaus Pueschel, Martin Aepfelbacher, Tobias B. Huber: Multi-organ and renal tropism of SARS-CoV-2; in: New England Journal of Medicine (13.05.2020),

Video: Ανεξέλεγκτος ο νέος κοροναϊός. AlphaNews (January 2023).