Analysis of complement deposition and viral RNA in placentas of COVID-19 patients

J. Justin Mulvey, Cynthia M. Magro, Lucy X. Ma, Gerard J. Nuovo, Rebecca N. Baergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is increasingly being recognized as a systemic thrombotic and microvascular injury syndrome that may have its roots in complement activation. We had the opportunity to study the placental pathology of five full-term births to COVID-19 patients. All five exhibited histology indicative of fetal vascular malperfusion characterized by focal avascular villi and thrombi in larger fetal vessels. Vascular complement deposition in the placentas was not abnormal, and staining for viral RNA and viral spike protein was negative. While all cases resulted in healthy, term deliveries, these findings indicate the systemic nature of COVID-19 infection. The finding of vascular thrombosis without complement deposition may reflect the systemic nature of COVID-19's procoagulant effects unrelated to systemic complement activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number151529
JournalAnnals of Diagnostic Pathology
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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