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Placental vascular remodeling in pregnant women with COVID-19

By Sergiy G. Gychka, Iurii L. Kuchyn, Tetyana V. Savchuk, Sofia I. Nikolaienko, Volodymyr M. Zhezhera, Ihor I. Chermak, Yuichiro J. Suzuki

Posted 03 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.01.21259860

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 has been causing the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that has so far resulted in over 180 million infections and nearly 4 million deaths. This respiratory virus uses angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 as a receptor to enter host cells, exhibiting a unique feature that affects various tissues in addition to the lungs. The present study reports that the placental arteries from women who gave birth to live full-term newborns while developing of COVID-19 during pregnancy exhibit severe vascular wall thickening and the occlusion of the vascular lumen. A morphometric analysis of the placental arteries stained with hematoxylin and eosin suggest a 2-fold increase in wall thickness and a 5-fold decrease in the lumen area. Immunohistochemistry with alpha-smooth muscle actin and Masson's trichrome staining showed that such placental vascular remodeling in COVID-19 is associated with smooth muscle proliferation and fibrosis. Placental vascular remodeling may represent a mechanism of the clinical problems associated with childbirth in COVID-19 patients.

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