Difficulties in Differentiating Coronaviruses from Subcellular Structures in Human Tissues by Electron Microscopy.
Efforts to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have placed a renewed focus on the use of transmission electron microscopy for identifying coronavirus in tissues. In attempts to attribute pathology of COVID-19 patients directly to tissue damage caused by SARS-CoV-2, investigators have inaccurately reported subcellular structures, including coated vesicles, multivesicular bodies, and vesiculating rough endoplasmic reticulum, as coronavirus particles. We describe morphologic features of coronavirus that distinguish it from subcellular structures, including particle size range (60-140 nm), intracellular particle location within membrane-bound vacuoles, and a nucleocapsid appearing in cross section as dense dots (6-12 nm) within the particles. In addition, although the characteristic spikes of coronaviruses may be visible on the virus surface, especially on extracellular particles, they are less evident in thin sections than in negative stain preparations.
Bullock, HA; Goldsmith, CS; Zaki, SR; Martines, RB; Miller, SE
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)