Inner ear can be infected by SARS-CoV-2 virus says MIT
A new study from MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear provides evidence that the virus can infect cells of the inner ear, including hair cells, which are critical for both hearing and balance. The researchers found that the pattern of infection seen in human inner ear tissue is consistent with the symptoms seen in a study of Covid-19 patients who reported a variety of ear-related symptoms. Many Covid-19 patients have reported symptoms affecting the ears, including hearing loss and tinnitus. Dizziness and balance problems can also occur, suggesting that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may be able to infect the inner ear. The researchers used novel cellular models of the human inner ear that they developed, as well as hard-to-obtain adult human inner ear tissue, for their studies. The limited availability of such tissue has hindered previous studies of Covid-19 and other viruses that can cause hearing loss.
The pattern of infection that the researchers found in their tissue samples appears to correspond to the symptoms observed in a group of Covid-19 patients who reported ear-related symptoms following their infection. Nine of these patients suffered from tinnitus, six experienced vertigo, and all experienced mild to profound hearing loss.