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Int J Cardiol ; 2021 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1549827


BACKGROUND: Compelling evidence has shown cardiac involvement in COVID-19 patients. However, the overall majority of these studies use data obtained during the first wave of the pandemic, while recently differences have been reported in disease course and mortality between first- and second wave COVID-19 patients. The aim of this study was to analyze and compare cardiac pathology between first- and second wave COVID-19 patients. METHODS: Autopsied hearts from first- (n = 15) and second wave (n = 10) COVID-19 patients and from 18 non-COVID-19 control patients were (immuno)histochemically analyzed. CD45+ leukocyte, CD68+ macrophage and CD3+ T lymphocyte infiltration, cardiomyocyte necrosis and microvascular thrombosis were quantified. In addition, the procoagulant factors Tissue Factor (TF), Factor VII (FVII), Factor XII (FXII), the anticoagulant protein Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 (DPP4) and the advanced glycation end-product N(ε)-Carboxymethyllysine (CML), as markers of microvascular thrombogenicity and dysfunction, were quantified. RESULTS: Cardiac inflammation was significantly decreased in second wave compared to first wave COVID-19 patients, predominantly related to a decrease in infiltrated lymphocytes and the occurrence of lymphocytic myocarditis. This was accompanied by significant decreases in cardiomyocyte injury and microvascular thrombosis. Moreover, microvascular deposits of FVII and CML were significantly lower in second wave compared to first wave COVID-19 patients. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that in our cohort of fatal COVID-19 cases cardiac inflammation, cardiomyocyte injury and microvascular thrombogenicity were markedly decreased in second wave compared to first wave patients. This may reflect advances in COVID-19 treatment related to an increased use of steroids in the second COVID-19 wave.

J Pathol ; 2021 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1549277


COVID-19 is a pandemic with high morbidity and mortality. In an autopsy cohort of COVID-19 patients, we found extensive accumulation of the tryptophan degradation products 3-hydroxy anthranilic acid and quinolinic acid in lungs, heart, and brain. This was not related to the expression of the tryptophan-catabolizing indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO)-1, but rather to that of its isoform IDO-2, which otherwise is expressed rarely. Bioavailability of tryptophan is an absolute requirement for proper cell functioning and synthesis of hormones, whereas its degradation products can cause cell death. Markers of apoptosis and severe cellular stress were associated with IDO-2 expression in large areas of lung and heart tissue, whereas affected areas in brain were more restricted. Analyses of tissue, cerebrospinal fluid, and sequential plasma samples indicate early initiation of the kynurenine/aryl-hydrocarbon receptor/IDO-2 axis as a positive feedback loop, potentially leading to severe COVID-19 pathology. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Respirology ; 26(9): 869-877, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1280373


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia present with typical findings on chest computed tomography (CT), but the underlying histopathological patterns are unknown. Through direct regional correlation of imaging findings to histopathological patterns, this study aimed to explain typical COVID-19 CT patterns at tissue level. METHODS: Eight autopsy cases were prospectively selected of patients with PCR-proven COVID-19 pneumonia with varying clinical manifestations and causes of death. All had been subjected to chest CT imaging 24-72 h prior to death. Twenty-seven lung areas with typical COVID-19 patterns and two radiologically unaffected pulmonary areas were correlated to histopathological findings in the same lung regions. RESULTS: Two dominant radiological patterns were observed: ground-glass opacity (GGO) (n = 11) and consolidation (n = 16). In seven of 11 sampled areas of GGO, diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) was observed. In four areas of GGO, the histological pattern was vascular damage and thrombosis, with (n = 2) or without DAD (n = 2). DAD was also observed in five of 16 samples derived from areas of radiological consolidation. Seven areas of consolidation were based on a combination of DAD, vascular damage and thrombosis. In four areas of consolidation, bronchopneumonia was found. Unexpectedly, in samples from radiologically unaffected lung parenchyma, evidence was found of vascular damage and thrombosis. CONCLUSION: In COVID-19, radiological findings of GGO and consolidation are mostly explained by DAD or a combination of DAD and vascular damage plus thrombosis. However, the different typical CT patterns in COVID-19 are not related to specific histopathological patterns. Microvascular damage and thrombosis are even encountered in the radiologically normal lung.

COVID-19 , Lung , Tomography, X-Ray Computed , Autopsy , COVID-19/diagnostic imaging , Humans , Lung/diagnostic imaging , Retrospective Studies
Lancet Microbe ; 1(7): e290-e299, 2020 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1087376


Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) targets multiple organs and causes severe coagulopathy. Histopathological organ changes might not only be attributable to a direct virus-induced effect, but also the immune response. The aims of this study were to assess the duration of viral presence, identify the extent of inflammatory response, and investigate the underlying cause of coagulopathy. Methods: This prospective autopsy cohort study was done at Amsterdam University Medical Centers (UMC), the Netherlands. With informed consent from relatives, full body autopsy was done on 21 patients with COVID-19 for whom autopsy was requested between March 9 and May 18, 2020. In addition to histopathological evaluation of organ damage, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein and the composition of the immune infiltrate and thrombi were assessed, and all were linked to disease course. Findings: Our cohort (n=21) included 16 (76%) men, and median age was 68 years (range 41-78). Median disease course (time from onset of symptoms to death) was 22 days (range 5-44 days). In 11 patients tested for SARS-CoV-2 tropism, SARS-CoV-2 infected cells were present in multiple organs, most abundantly in the lungs, but presence in the lungs became sporadic with increased disease course. Other SARS-CoV-2-positive organs included the upper respiratory tract, heart, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. In histological analyses of organs (sampled from nine to 21 patients per organ), an extensive inflammatory response was present in the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. In the brain, extensive inflammation was seen in the olfactory bulbs and medulla oblongata. Thrombi and neutrophilic plugs were present in the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, and brain and were most frequently observed late in the disease course (15 patients with thrombi, median disease course 22 days [5-44]; ten patients with neutrophilic plugs, 21 days [5-44]). Neutrophilic plugs were observed in two forms: solely composed of neutrophils with neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), or as aggregates of NETs and platelets.. Interpretation: In patients with lethal COVID-19, an extensive systemic inflammatory response was present, with a continued presence of neutrophils and NETs. However, SARS-CoV-2-infected cells were only sporadically present at late stages of COVID-19. This suggests a maladaptive immune response and substantiates the evidence for immunomodulation as a target in the treatment of severe COVID-19. Funding: Amsterdam UMC Corona Research Fund.