While COVID-19 significantly impacts many pregnant women, the rates of transmission from a pregnant mother to the baby are very low.
A new study from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) indicates that ACE-2, the receptor that allows SARS-CoV-2 to enter cells, is found in lower levels in the placentas of pregnant women with COVID-19.
The findings were reported in the American Journal of Pathology.
"We think that when a woman has COVID-19 in pregnancy, the placenta sheds ACE-2 as a way to block SARS-CoV-2 from being passed to the fetus."Elizabeth S. Taglauer, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine
The team behind the study collected and analysed placentas from women who delivered at Boston Medical Center from July 2020 to April 2021.
The samples were taken from two groups - the first group was women who had normal pregnancies and no report of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The second group of women were SARS-CoV-2 positive and had contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy.
The researchers then observed ACE-2 expression in the placentas under a microscope and compared placental ACE-2 expression using genetic and protein analysis techniques.
According to the team behind the report, the placenta is similar to the lung in many ways, and this study could help prevent and treat COVID-19 infections, as well as other types of lung disease.
"The placenta is one of the few "success stories" of the pandemic. If we understand how the placenta naturally protects babies from COVID-19, it may provide important information to help prevent the spread of other SARS-CoV-2 infections."Elizabeth S. Taglauer, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine
(This story was published from a syndicated feed. Only the headline and picture has been edited by FIT.)