Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), mainly transmitted by droplets and close contact, has caused a pandemic worldwide as of March 2020. According to the current case reports and cohort studies, the symptoms of pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2 were similar to normal adults and may cause a series of adverse consequences of pregnancy (placental abruption, fetal distress, epilepsy during pregnancy, etc.). However, whether SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted to the fetus through the placental barrier is still a focus of debate.
In this study, in order to find out whether SARS-CoV-2 can infect fetus through the placental barrier, we performed qualitative detection of virus structural protein (spike protein and nucleoprotein) and targeted receptor protein Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2), Basigin (CD147) and molecular chaperone GRP78 expression on the placental tissue of seven pregnant women diagnosed with COVID-19 through immunohistochemistry. Amniotic fluid, neonatal throat, anal swab and breastmilk samples were collected immediately in the operating room or delivery room for verification after delivery, which were all tested for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse transcriptionpolymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
The result showed that CD147 was expressed on the basal side of the chorionic trophoblast cell membrane and ACE2 was expressed on the maternal side, while GRP78 was strongly expressed in the cell membrane and cytoplasm. The RT-PCR results of Amniotic fluid, neonatal throat, anal swab and breastmilk samples were all negative. On the basis of these findings, we speculated that it may be due to the placental barrier between mother and baby, for example, villous matrix and interstitial blood vessels have low expression of virus-related receptors (ACE2, CD147, GRP78), the probability of vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the placenta is low.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.