When the SARS-CoV-2 emerged as a pandemic in 2020, many wondered whether transmission of the virus would decrease in the summer as happened with SARS-Co-V in 2003. Kumar et al. investigated the impact of temperature on cellular infection and the stability of SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers found ambient temperature changes ranging from 4 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius had no effect on the spike protein structure of the virus, which denatured at 50 degrees Celsius. Respiratory tract temperature fluctuations did not affect SARS-CoV-2 particle interaction with epithelial cells in the lungs.

“By using SARS-CoV-2 viral mimicking particles as a safer and simpler alternative approach, we were able to experimentally demonstrate and answer one of the highly debated and speculative questions on the role of temperature on SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said author Sapun Parekh.

To study the effect of temperature on cellular infection of SARS-CoV-2, the researchers tested how respiratory tract temperature influenced SARS-CoV-2 mimic particles bound to lung cells as well as how ambient temperature affects the viral spike protein stability.

“It was surprising to see no effect of temperature from 4 to 40 degrees Celsius on the spike receptor biding domain structural stability,” said Parekh. “Our results agree with what has been observed in the real world, where robust capacity for respiratory infection through ACE-2 receptor has continued independent of seasonal temperature swings.”

Since the process of using SARS-CoV-2 viral mimicking particles is a safer and simpler approach, it could be useful going forward for studying the effect of chemical therapeutics, vaccines, or antibody treatments that target the SARS-CoV-2 spike to prevent it from binding with lung cells.

Source: “Effect of ambient temperature on respiratory tract cells exposed to SARS-CoV-2 viral mimicking nanospheres - an experimental study,” by Sachin Kumar, Alexandra Paul, Sayantan Chatterjee, Sabine Pütz, Natasha Nehra, Daniel S. Wang, Arsalan Nisar, Christian Jennings, and Sapun Parekh, Biointerphases (2021). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1116/6.0000743.

This paper is part of the Biomimetics of Biointerfaces Collection, learn more here.