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J Infect Dis ; 224(Suppl 6): S660-S669, 2021 12 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1559086


BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 infection in term placenta is rare. However, growing evidence suggests that susceptibility of the human placenta to infection may vary by gestational age and pathogen. For several viral infections, susceptibility appears to be greatest during early gestation. Peri-implantation placental infections that result in pre-clinical pregnancy loss would typically go undetected. Little is known about the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the peri-implantation human placenta since this time in pregnancy can only be modeled in vitro. METHODS: We used a human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived model of peri-implantation placental development to assess patterns of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 transcription and protein expression in primitive trophoblast. We then infected the same trophoblast cell model with a clinical isolate of SARS-CoV-2 and documented infection dynamics. RESULTS: ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were transcribed and translated in hESC-derived trophoblast, with preferential expression in syncytialized cells. These same cells supported replicative and persistent infection by SARS-CoV-2, while non-syncytialized trophoblast cells in the same cultures did not. CONCLUSIONS: Co-expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in hESC-derived trophoblast and the robust and replicative infection limited to syncytiotrophoblast equivalents support the hypothesis that increased viral susceptibility may be a defining characteristic of primitive trophoblast.

COVID-19/diagnosis , Placenta/metabolism , Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/virology , Abortion, Spontaneous/virology , Adult , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , COVID-19/blood , Female , Humans , Persistent Infection , Pregnancy , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , Serine Endopeptidases , Trophoblasts
Sci Transl Med ; 13(617): eabi7428, 2021 Oct 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1476378


There is a persistent bias toward higher prevalence and increased severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in males. Underlying mechanisms accounting for this sex difference remain incompletely understood. Interferon responses have been implicated as a modulator of COVID-19 disease in adults and play a key role in the placental antiviral response. Moreover, the interferon response has been shown to alter Fc receptor expression and therefore may affect placental antibody transfer. Here, we examined the intersection of maternal-fetal antibody transfer, viral-induced placental interferon responses, and fetal sex in pregnant women infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Placental Fc receptor abundance, interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression, and SARS-CoV-2 antibody transfer were interrogated in 68 human pregnancies. Sexually dimorphic expression of placental Fc receptors, ISGs and proteins, and interleukin-10 was observed after maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection, with up-regulation of these features in placental tissue of pregnant individuals with male fetuses. Reduced maternal SARS-CoV-2­specific antibody titers and impaired placental antibody transfer were also observed in pregnancies with a male fetus. These results demonstrate fetal sex-specific maternal and placental adaptive and innate immune responses to SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19 , Pregnancy Complications, Infectious , Female , Humans , Immunity , Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical , Placenta , Pregnancy , SARS-CoV-2