Intrauterine Fetal Demise After Uncomplicated COVID-19: What Can We Learn from the Case?Viruses. 2021 12 19; 13(12)V
SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnant women can lead to placental damage and transplacental infection transfer, and intrauterine fetal demise is an unpredictable event.
A 32-year-old patient in her 38th week of pregnancy reported loss of fetal movements. She overcame mild COVID-19 with positive PCR test 22 days before. A histology of the placenta showed deposition of intervillous fibrinoid, lympho-histiocytic infiltration, scant neutrophils, clumping of villi, and extant infarctions. Immunohistochemistry identified focal SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid and spike protein in the syncytiotrophoblast and isolated in situ hybridization of the virus' RNA. Low ACE2 and TMPRSS2 contrasted with strong basigin/CD147 and PDL-1 positivity in the trophoblast. An autopsy of the fetus showed no morphological abnormalities except for lung interstitial infiltrate, with prevalent CD8-positive T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization proved the presence of countless dispersed SARS-CoV-2-infected epithelial and endothelial cells in the lung tissue. The potential virus-receptor protein ACE2, TMPRSS2, and CD147 expression was too low to be detected.
Over three weeks' persistence of trophoblast viral infection lead to extensive intervillous fibrinoid depositions and placental infarctions. High CD147 expression might serve as the dominant receptor for the virus, and PDL-1 could limit maternal immunity in placental tissue virus clearance. The presented case indicates that the SARS-CoV-2 infection-induced changes in the placenta lead to ischemia and consecutive demise of the fetus. The infection of the fetus was without significant impact on its death. This rare complication of pregnancy can appear independently to the severity of COVID-19's clinical course in the pregnant mother.