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1.
Virchows Arch ; 2022 Apr 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1787815

ABSTRACT

The use of autopsies in medicine has been declining. The COVID-19 pandemic has documented and rejuvenated the importance of autopsies as a tool of modern medicine. In this review, we discuss the various autopsy techniques, the applicability of modern analytical methods to understand the pathophysiology of COVID-19, the major pathological organ findings, limitations or current studies, and open questions. This article summarizes published literature and the consented experience of the nationwide network of clinical, neuro-, and forensic pathologists from 27 German autopsy centers with more than 1200 COVID-19 autopsies. The autopsy tissues revealed that SARS-CoV-2 can be found in virtually all human organs and tissues, and the majority of cells. Autopsies have revealed the organ and tissue tropism of SARS-CoV-2, and the morphological features of COVID-19. This is characterized by diffuse alveolar damage, combined with angiocentric disease, which in turn is characterized by endothelial dysfunction, vascular inflammation, (micro-) thrombosis, vasoconstriction, and intussusceptive angiogenesis. These findings explained the increased pulmonary resistance in COVID-19 and supported the recommendations for antithrombotic treatment in COVID-19. In contrast, in extra-respiratory organs, pathological changes are often nonspecific and unclear to which extent these changes are due to direct infection vs. indirect/secondary mechanisms of organ injury, or a combination thereof. Ongoing research using autopsies aims at answering questions on disease mechanisms, e.g., focusing on variants of concern, and future challenges, such as post-COVID conditions. Autopsies are an invaluable tool in medicine and national and international interdisciplinary collaborative autopsy-based research initiatives are essential.

2.
Mod Pathol ; 2022 Apr 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1773954

ABSTRACT

The rate of SARS-CoV-2 infections in vaccinees has become a relevant serious issue. This study aimed to determine the causes of death, histological organ alteration, and viral spread in relation to demographic, clinical-pathological, viral variants, and vaccine types for deceased individuals with proven SARS-CoV-2 infection after vaccination who died between January and November 2021. Twenty-nine consecutively collected cases were analyzed and compared to 141 nonvaccinated control cases. Autopsies were performed on 16 partially and 13 fully vaccinated individuals. Most patients were elderly and suffered from several relevant comorbidities. Real-time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) identified a significantly increased rate of generalized viral dissemination within organ systems in vaccinated cases versus nonvaccinated cases (45% vs. 16%, respectively; P = 0.008) mainly with Ct-values of higher than 25 in non-respiratory samples. However, vaccinated cases also showed high viral loads, reaching Ct-values below 10, especially in the upper airways and lungs. This was accompanied by high rates of pulmonal bacterial or mycotic superinfections and the occurrence of immunocompromising factors, such as malignancies, immunosuppressive drug intake, or decreased immunoglobulin levels. All these findings were particularly accentuated in partially vaccinated patients compared to fully vaccinated individuals. The virus dissemination observed in our case study may indicate that patients with an impaired immune system have a decreased ability to eliminate the virus. However, the potential role of antibody-dependent enhancement must also be ruled out in future studies. Fatal cases of COVID-19 in vaccinees were rare and often associated with severe comorbidities or other immunosuppressive conditions.

3.
von Stillfried, Saskia, Bülow, Roman David, Röhrig, Rainer, Boor, Peter, Böcker, Jana, Schmidt, Jens, Tholen, Pauline, Majeed, Raphael, Wienströer, Jan, Weis, Joachim, Bremer, Juliane, Knüchel, Ruth, Breitbach, Anna, Cacchi, Claudio, Freeborn, Benita, Wucherpfennig, Sophie, Spring, Oliver, Braun, Georg, Römmele, Christoph, Märkl, Bruno, Claus, Rainer, Dhillon, Christine, Schaller, Tina, Sipos, Eva, Hirschbühl, Klaus, Wittmann, Michael, Kling, Elisabeth, Kröncke, Thomas, Heppner, Frank L.; Meinhardt, Jenny, Radbruch, Helena, Streit, Simon, Horst, David, Elezkurtaj, Sefer, Quaas, Alexander, Göbel, Heike, Hansen, Torsten, Titze, Ulf, Lorenzen, Johann, Reuter, Thomas, Woloszyn, Jaroslaw, Baretton, Gustavo, Hilsenbeck, Julia, Meinhardt, Matthias, Pablik, Jessica, Sommer, Linna, Holotiuk, Olaf, Meinel, Meike, Mahlke, Nina, Esposito, Irene, Crudele, Graziano, Seidl, Maximilian, Amann, Kerstin U.; Coras, Roland, Hartmann, Arndt, Eichhorn, Philip, Haller, Florian, Lange, Fabienne, Schmid, Kurt Werner, Ingenwerth, Marc, Rawitzer, Josefine, Theegarten, Dirk, Birngruber, Christoph G.; Wild, Peter, Gradhand, Elise, Smith, Kevin, Werner, Martin, Schilling, Oliver, Acker, Till, Gattenlöhner, Stefan, Stadelmann, Christine, Metz, Imke, Franz, Jonas, Stork, Lidia, Thomas, Carolina, Zechel, Sabrina, Ströbel, Philipp, Wickenhauser, Claudia, Fathke, Christine, Harder, Anja, Ondruschka, Benjamin, Dietz, Eric, Edler, Carolin, Fitzek, Antonia, Fröb, Daniela, Heinemann, Axel, Heinrich, Fabian, Klein, Anke, Kniep, Inga, Lohner, Larissa, Möbius, Dustin, Püschel, Klaus, Schädler, Julia, Schröder, Ann-Sophie, Sperhake, Jan-Peter, Aepfelbacher, Martin, Fischer, Nicole, Lütgehetmann, Marc, Pfefferle, Susanne, Glatzel, Markus, Krasemann, Susanne, Matschke, Jakob, Jonigk, Danny, Werlein, Christopher, Schirmacher, Peter, Domke, Lisa Maria, Hartmann, Laura, Klein, Isabel Madeleine, Schwab, Constantin, Röcken, Christoph, Friemann, Johannes, Langer, Dorothea, Roth, Wilfried, Strobl, Stephanie, Rudelius, Martina, Stock, Konrad Friedrich, Weichert, Wilko, Delbridge, Claire, Kasajima, Atsuko, Kuhn, Peer-Hendrik, Slotta-Huspenina, Julia, Weirich, Gregor, Barth, Peter, Wardelmann, Eva, Evert, Katja, Büttner, Andreas, Manhart, Johannes, Nigbur, Stefan, Bittmann, Iris, Fend, Falko, Bösmüller, Hans, Granai, Massimo, Klingel, Karin, Warm, Verena, Steinestel, Konrad, Umathum, Vincent Gottfried, Rosenwald, Andreas, Kurz, Florian, Vogt, Niklas.
The Lancet Regional Health - Europe ; : 100330, 2022.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-1693139

ABSTRACT

Summary Background Autopsies are an important tool in medicine, dissecting disease pathophysiology and causes of death. In COVID-19, autopsies revealed e.g., the effects on pulmonary (micro)vasculature or the nervous system, systemic viral spread, or the interplay with the immune system. To facilitate multicentre autopsy-based studies and provide a central hub supporting autopsy centres, researchers, and data analyses and reporting, in April 2020 the German COVID-19 Autopsy Registry (DeRegCOVID) was launched. Methods The electronic registry uses a web-based electronic case report form. Participation is voluntary and biomaterial remains at the respective site (decentralized biobanking). As of October 2021, the registry included N=1129 autopsy cases, with 69271 single data points including information on 18674 available biospecimens gathered from 29 German sites. Findings In the N=1095 eligible records, the male-to-female ratio was 1·8:1, with peaks at 65-69 and 80-84 years in males and >85 years in females. The analysis of the chain of events directly leading to death revealed COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death in 86% of the autopsy cases, whereas in 14% COVID-19 was a concomitant disease. The most common immediate cause of death was diffuse alveolar damage, followed by multi-organ failure. The registry supports several scientific projects, public outreach and provides reports to the federal health authorities, leading to legislative adaptation of the German Infection Protection Act, facilitating the performance of autopsies during pandemics. Interpretation A national autopsy registry can provide multicentre quantitative information on COVID-19 deaths on a national level, supporting medical research, political decision-making and public discussion. Funding German Federal Ministries of Education and Research and Health. Hintergrund: Obduktionen sind ein wichtiges Instrument in der Medizin, um die Pathophysiologie von Krankheiten und Todesursachen zu untersuchen. Im Rahmen von COVID-19 wurden durch Obduktionen z.B. die Auswirkungen auf die pulmonale Mikrovaskulatur, das Nervensystem, die systemische Virusausbreitung, und das Zusammenspiel mit dem Immunsystem untersucht. Um multizentrische, auf Obduktionen basierende Studien zu erleichtern und eine zentrale Anlaufstelle zu schaffen, die Obduktionszentren, Forscher sowie Datenanalysen und -berichte unterstützt, wurde im April 2020 das deutsche COVID-19-Autopsieregister (DeRegCOVID) ins Leben gerufen. Methoden: Das elektronische Register verwendet ein webbasiertes elektronisches Fallberichtsformular. Die Teilnahme ist freiwillig und das Biomaterial verbleibt am jeweiligen Standort (dezentrales Biobanking). Im Oktober 2021 umfasste das Register N=1129 Obduktionsfälle mit 69271 einzelnen Datenpunkten, die Informationen über 18674 verfügbare Bioproben enthielten, die von 29 deutschen Standorten gesammelt wurden. Ergebnisse: In den N=1095 ausgewerteten Datensätzen betrug das Verhältnis von Männern zu Frauen 1,8:1 mit Spitzenwerten bei 65-69 und 80-84 Jahren bei Männern und >85 Jahren bei Frauen. Die Analyse der Sequenz der unmittelbar zum Tod führenden Ereignisse ergab, dass in 86 % der Obduktionsfälle COVID-19 die zugrunde liegende Todesursache war, während in 14 % der Fälle COVID-19 eine Begleiterkrankung war. Die häufigste unmittelbare Todesursache war der diffuse Alveolarschaden, gefolgt von Multiorganversagen. Das Register unterstützt mehrere wissenschaftliche Projekte, die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und liefert Berichte an die Bundesgesundheitsbehörden, was zu einer Anpassung des deutschen Infektionsschutzgesetzes führte und die Durchführung von Obduktionen in Pandemien erleichtert. Interpretation: Ein nationales Obduktionsregister kann multizentrische quantitative Informationen über COVID-19-Todesfälle auf nationaler Ebene liefern und damit die medizinische Forschung, die politische Entscheidungsfindung und die öffentliche Diskussion unterstützen. Finanzierung: Bundesministerien für Bildung und Forschung und für Gesundheit.

4.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-310496

ABSTRACT

COVID-19, the pandemic infection caused by SARS-CoV-2, may take highly variable clinical courses, ranging from symptom-free and pauci-symptomatic to fatal disease. The goal of the current study was to assess the association of COVID-19 clinical courses controlled by patients’ adaptive immune responses without progression to severe disease with patients’ Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genetics, the presence or absence of near-loss-of-function delta 32 deletion mutant of C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5) and AB0 blood group antigens. We further analyzed the association of these immunogenetic background characteristics with patients’ humoral antiviral immune response patterns, assessed longitudinally. The study enrolled 157 convalescent adult patients followed up for up to 250 days. Univariate HLA analyses identified putatively protective HLA alleles (HLA class II DRB1*01:01 and HLA class I B*35:01, with a trend for DRB1*03:01) associated with reduced durations of disease and decreased (rather than increased) total anti-S IgG levels providing virus neutralizing capacity comparable to non-carriers. Conversely, analyses also identified HLA alleles (HLA class II DQB1*03:2 und HLA class I B*15:01) not associated with such benefit in the patient cohort of this study. Hierarchical testing by Cox regression analyses confirmed the significance of the protective effect of the HLA alleles identified (when assessed in composite) in terms of disease duration, whereas AB0 blood group antigen heterozygosity was found to be significantly associated with disease severity (rather than duration) in our cohort. A seeming association of a heterozygous CCR5 delta 32 mutation with prolonged disease duration suggested by univariate analyses was not confirmed by hierarchical multivariate testing.In conclusion, the current study shows that the presence of certain "protective" HLA alleles is of even stronger association with reduced duration of mild and moderate COVID-19 than age or any other potential risk factor assessed. Prospective studies in larger patient populations assessing the impact of HLA genetics on the capacity of mounting protective vaccination responses may be warranted.

5.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-294937

ABSTRACT

Background: The rate of SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections in vaccinees is becoming an increasingly serious issue. Objective: To determine the causes of death, histological organ alteration, and viral spread in relation to demographic, clinical-pathological, viral variants, and vaccine types. Design: Comprehensive retrospective observational cohort study. Setting: Consecutive cases from four German academic medical centers. Patients: Deceased with proven SARS-CoV-2 infection after vaccination who died between January and November 2021. Collections of 29 vaccinees which were analyzed and compared to 141 nonvaccinated control cases. Results: Autopsies were performed on 16 partially and 13 fully vaccinated individuals. Most patients were elderly and suffered from several relevant comorbidities. Real-time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) identified a significantly increased rate of generalized viral dissemination within the organism in vaccinated cases versus nonvaccinated cases (45% vs. 16%, respectively;P = 0.008). Vaccinated cases also showed high viral loads, reaching Ct values below 10, especially in the upper airways and lungs. This was accompanied by high rates of pulmonal bacterial or mycotic superinfections and the occurrence of immunocompromising factors such as malignancies, immunosuppressive drug intake, or decreased immunoglobulin levels. All these findings were particularly accentuated in partially vaccinated patients compared to fully vaccinated individuals. A fatal course after vaccination occurred in only 14% of all COVID-19 deceased in Augsburg. Limitations: Restricted number of cases Conclusions: Fatal cases of COVID-19 in vaccinees were rare and often associated with severe comorbidities or other immunosuppressive conditions. Interestingly, we observed striking virus dissemination in our case study, which may indicate a decreased ability to eliminate the virus in patients with an impaired immune system. However, the potential role of antibody-dependent enhancement must also be ruled out in future studies.

6.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-293536

ABSTRACT

Background: The rate of SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections in vaccinees is becoming an increasingly serious issue. Objective: To determine the causes of death, histological organ alteration, and viral spread in relation to demographic, clinical-pathological, viral variants, and vaccine types. Design: Comprehensive retrospective observational cohort study. Setting: Consecutive cases from four German academic medical centers. Patients: Deceased with proven SARS-CoV-2 infection after vaccination who died between January and November 2021. Collections of 29 vaccinees which were analyzed and compared to 141 nonvaccinated control cases. Results: Autopsies were performed on 16 partially and 13 fully vaccinated individuals. Most patients were elderly and suffered from several relevant comorbidities. Real-time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) identified a significantly increased rate of generalized viral dissemination within the organism in vaccinated cases versus nonvaccinated cases (45% vs. 16%, respectively;P = 0.008). Vaccinated cases also showed high viral loads, reaching Ct values below 10, especially in the upper airways and lungs. This was accompanied by high rates of pulmonal bacterial or mycotic superinfections and the occurrence of immunocompromising factors such as malignancies, immunosuppressive drug intake, or decreased immunoglobulin levels. All these findings were particularly accentuated in partially vaccinated patients compared to fully vaccinated individuals. A fatal course after vaccination occurred in only 14% of all COVID-19 deceased in Augsburg. Limitations: Restricted number of cases Conclusions: Fatal cases of COVID-19 in vaccinees were rare and often associated with severe comorbidities or other immunosuppressive conditions. Interestingly, we observed striking virus dissemination in our case study, which may indicate a decreased ability to eliminate the virus in patients with an impaired immune system. However, the potential role of antibody-dependent enhancement must also be ruled out in future studies.

7.
Eur J Med Res ; 26(1): 107, 2021 Sep 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1412355

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: COVID-19, the pandemic disease caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, may take highly variable clinical courses, ranging from symptom-free and pauci-symptomatic to fatal disease. The goal of the current study was to assess the association of COVID-19 clinical courses controlled by patients' adaptive immune responses without progression to severe disease with patients' Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genetics, AB0 blood group antigens, and the presence or absence of near-loss-of-function delta 32 deletion mutant of the C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5). PATIENT AND METHODS: An exploratory observational study including 157 adult COVID-19 convalescent patients was performed with a median follow-up of 250 days. The impact of different HLA genotypes, AB0 blood group antigens, and the CCR5 mutant CD195 were investigated for their role in the clinical course of COVID-19. In addition, this study addressed levels of severity and morbidity of COVID-19. The association of the immunogenetic background parameters were further related to patients' humoral antiviral immune response patterns by longitudinal observation. RESULTS: Univariate HLA analyses identified putatively protective HLA alleles (HLA class II DRB1*01:01 and HLA class I B*35:01, with a trend for DRB1*03:01). They were associated with reduced durations of disease instead decreased (rather than increased) total anti-S IgG levels. They had a higher virus neutralizing capacity compared to non-carriers. Conversely, analyses also identified HLA alleles (HLA class II DQB1*03:02 und HLA class I B*15:01) not associated with such benefit in the patient cohort of this study. Hierarchical testing by Cox regression analyses confirmed the significance of the protective effect of the HLA alleles identified (when assessed in composite) in terms of disease duration, whereas AB0 blood group antigen heterozygosity was found to be significantly associated with disease severity (rather than duration) in our cohort. A suggestive association of a heterozygous CCR5 delta 32 mutation status with prolonged disease duration was implied by univariate analyses but could not be confirmed by hierarchical multivariate testing. CONCLUSION: The current study shows that the presence of HLA class II DRB1*01:01 and HLA class I B*35:01 is of even stronger association with reduced disease duration in mild and moderate COVID-19 than age or any other potential risk factor assessed. Prospective studies in larger patient populations also including novel SARS-CoV-2 variants will be required to assess the impact of HLA genetics on the capacity of mounting protective vaccination responses in the future.


Subject(s)
ABO Blood-Group System/genetics , COVID-19/etiology , HLA Antigens/genetics , Receptors, CCR5/genetics , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/genetics , Female , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Genotype , HLA-DRB1 Chains/genetics , Histocompatibility Antigens Class I/genetics , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Male , Middle Aged , Morbidity , Mutation , Severity of Illness Index
8.
Clin Case Rep ; 9(5): e04068, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1242709

ABSTRACT

This case of secondary sclerosing cholangitis (SSC-CIP) emphasizes the need to provide follow-up care for patients that have recovered from COVID-19 in order to understand the complexity of SARS-CoV-2 associated sequela.

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