Massimo M, Barelli C, Moreno C, Collesi C, Holloway RK, Crespo B, Zentilin L, Williams A, Miron VE, Giacca M, Long KR (2023) Haemorrhage of human foetal cortex associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Brain 146: 1175-1185.

Maternal viral infection and immune response are known to increase the risk of altered development of the foetal brain. Given the ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), investigating the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on foetal brain health is of critical importance. Here, we report the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in first and second trimester foetal brain tissue in association with cortical haemorrhages. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was sparsely detected within progenitors and neurons of the cortex itself, but was abundant in the choroid plexus of haemorrhagic samples. SARS-CoV-2 was also sparsely detected in placenta, amnion and umbilical cord tissues. Cortical haemorrhages were linked to a reduction in blood vessel integrity and an increase in immune cell infiltration into the foetal brain. Our findings indicate that SARS-CoV-2 infection may affect the foetal brain during early gestation and highlight the need for further study of its impact on subsequent neurological development.

Pubmed: 36642091