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Elevated ACE2 expression in the olfactory neuroepithelium: implications for anosmia and upper respiratory SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication

By Mengfei Chen, Wenjuan Shen, Nicholas R. Rowan, Heather Kulaga, Alexander Hillel, Murugappan Ramanathan, Andrew P Lane

Posted 09 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.08.084996 (published DOI: 10.1183/13993003.01948-2020)

The site of SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication critically impacts strategies for COVID-19 diagnosis, transmission mitigation, and treatment. We determined the cellular location of the SARS-CoV-2 target receptor protein, ACE2, in the human upper airway, finding striking enrichment (200-700 fold) in the olfactory neuroepithelium relative to nasal respiratory or tracheal epithelial cells. This cellular tropism of SARS-CoV-2 may underlie its high transmissibility and association with olfactory dysfunction, while suggesting a viral reservoir potentially amenable to intranasal therapy. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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