Neuropathologic features of four autopsied COVID-19 patients

Link to article at PubMed

Brain Pathol. 2020 Aug 6. doi: 10.1111/bpa.12889. Online ahead of print.


Published descriptions of the neuropathological features of COVID-19 patients have been controversial, ranging from only modest or no pathology to severe hypoxic and hemorrhagic phenotypes, thrombotic complications, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis-like changes, and encephalitis and meningitis. Here we describe the neuropathological findings of four COVID-19-positive patients autopsied at the Helsinki University Hospital during the spring of 2020. While three of the patients (age range 63-90) exhibited merely mild to moderate hypoxia-associated changes, one 38-year-old subject with obesity, diabetes (type 2), Parkinson's disease, and a very severe clinical course was found to have severe ischemic injury, abundant microhemorrhages and enlarged perivascular spaces most pronounced in the white matter and deep gray matter. The pattern of ischemic changes suggested a defect in microcirculation. In addition, a few small perivascular white matter lesions, with macrophages engulfing myelin, were found. No signs of encephalitis or meningitis were detected in any of the patients. When conducting RT-PCR and immunohistochemical analyses of brain tissue we could not demonstrate in any of the patients marked injury or presence of SARS-CoV2 in the olfactory epithelium, olfactory bulbs, or brain areas responsible for respiratory control. In conclusion, our small autopsy series demonstrates various hypoxia-associated neuropathological features in COVID-19 patients, but no evidence of neurotropism or meningitis/encephalitis.

PMID:32762083 | DOI:10.1111/bpa.12889

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