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Authors: Zhou et al.

Link to paper:

Journal/ Pre-Print: Nature Medicine

Tags: GI, cell biology

Research Highlights

1. Establishment of horseshoe bat enteric organoids to study CoV-SARS2

2. Demonstration of tropism of CoV-SARS2 towards bat enteric cells

3. Recapitulation of enteric clinical symptoms in human intestinal organoid.


Natural origins of CoV-SARS2 have been speculated since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemics. This study demonstrated that organoids isolated from the intestine of a species of bats in China were both susceptible and permissive to CoV-SARS2 infection. Not only did it suggest a bat origin, it will become a valuable tool to study the evolution of tropism and cell biology of CoV-SARS2 in its natural host. Human intestinal organoids were also infected with CoV-SARS2 and proved to have elevated levels of cytokines, pointing to a cellular basis of intestinal symptoms in some COVID-19 patients.

Impact for SARS-CoV2/COVID19 research efforts

Understand the virology and/or cell biology of SARS-CoV2/COVID19

Clinical symptoms and pathogenesis of SARS-Cov2/COVID19

Study Type

In vitro study

Strengths and limitations of the paper

Novelty: It is the first established bat intestinal organoids.

Standing in the field: This study adds to existing literature on SARS-CoV2 infection of gut enterocytes.

Appropriate statistics:

- A few experiments lack test statistics possibly due to the rarity of samples (n = 1)

- T-test requires assumptions of normality and equality of variance which the authors didn’t provide. Although not necessary, it’s good for overall rigors.

Viral model used: Virus isolated from patients

Translatability: It is yet to reach translational potential.

Main limitations:

- Although not necessary, it will be nice to clarify the infectibility of CoV-SARS2 particles isolated from bat organoids culture towards both bat and human cells.

- Technical and experimental replicates lacking