The SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 expression of maternal-fetal interface and fetal organs by single-cell transcriptome study.PLoS One. 2020; 15(4):e0230295.Plos
The new type of pneumonia caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) has been declared as a global public health concern by WHO. As of April 3, 2020, more than 1,000,000 human infections have been diagnosed around the world, which exhibited apparent person-to-person transmission characteristics of this virus. The capacity of vertical transmission in SARS-CoV-2 remains controversial recently. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is now confirmed as the receptor of SARS-CoV-2 and plays essential roles in human infection and transmission. In present study, we collected the online available single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data to evaluate the cell specific expression of ACE2 in maternal-fetal interface as well as in multiple fetal organs. Our results revealed that ACE2 was highly expressed in maternal-fetal interface cells including stromal cells and perivascular cells of decidua, and cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast in placenta. Meanwhile, ACE2 was also expressed in specific cell types of human fetal heart, liver and lung, but not in kidney. And in a study containing series fetal and post-natal mouse lung, we observed ACE2 was dynamically changed over the time, and ACE2 was extremely high in neonatal mice at post-natal day 1~3. In summary, this study revealed that the SARS-CoV-2 receptor was widely spread in specific cell types of maternal-fetal interface and fetal organs. And thus, both the vertical transmission and the placenta dysfunction/abortion caused by SARS-CoV-2 need to be further carefully investigated in clinical practice.