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Infection of brain pericytes underlying neuropathology of covid‐19 patients

Bocci, M; Oudenaarden, C; Sàenz‐sardà, X; Simrén, J; Edén, A; Sjölund, J; Möller, C; ... Pietras, K; + view all (2021) Infection of brain pericytes underlying neuropathology of covid‐19 patients. International Journal of Molecular Sciences , 22 (21) , Article 11622. 10.3390/ijms222111622. Green open access

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Abstract

A wide range of neurological manifestations have been associated with the development of COVID‐19 following SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. However, the etiology of the neurological sympto-matology is still largely unexplored. Here, we used state‐of‐the‐art multiplexed immunostaining of human brains (n = 6 COVID‐19, median age = 69.5 years; n = 7 control, median age = 68 years) and demonstrated that expression of the SARS‐CoV‐2 receptor ACE2 is restricted to a subset of neuro-vascular pericytes. Strikingly, neurological symptoms were exclusive to, and ubiquitous in, patients that exhibited moderate to high ACE2 expression in perivascular cells. Viral dsRNA was identified in the vascular wall and paralleled by perivascular inflammation, as signified by T cell and macro-phage infiltration. Furthermore, fibrinogen leakage indicated compromised integrity of the blood– brain barrier. Notably, cerebrospinal fluid from additional 16 individuals (n = 8 COVID‐19, median age = 67 years; n = 8 control, median age = 69.5 years) exhibited significantly lower levels of the pericyte marker PDGFRβ in SARS‐CoV‐2‐infected cases, indicative of disrupted pericyte homeostasis. We conclude that pericyte infection by SARS‐CoV‐2 underlies virus entry into the privileged central nervous system space, as well as neurological symptomatology due to perivascular inflammation and a locally compromised blood–brain barrier.

Type: Article
Title: Infection of brain pericytes underlying neuropathology of covid‐19 patients
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/ijms222111622
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111622
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: COVID-19; pericytes; ACE2; SARS-CoV-2; blood–brain barrier; multiplexed IHC; brain; vasculature; infection
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10138006
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