A study finds that COVID-19 suppresses the placenta’s immune response

Newswise — If a woman contracts COVID-19 while pregnant, the infection, even a mild one, destroys the placenta’s immune response to further infection, a study led by UW Medicine finds.

The study It was published September 17 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. said Christina Adams Waldorf, senior author and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We were surprised to find that women infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy had placentas with poor immune response to new infections.”

Adams Waldorf added that this finding “was the tip of the iceberg” in how COVID-19 affects fetal or placental development.

Early in the pandemic, many believed that COVID-19 did not appear to harm a developing fetus because there were very few babies born with COVID-19 infection.

“But what we’re seeing now is that the placenta is vulnerable to COVID-19, and the infection changes the way the placenta works, and that in turn potentially affects fetal development,” Adams Waldorf said.

Dr. Helen Filtowicz, Professor and Associate Medical Director of Maternal-Fetal Imaging at Intermountain, noted that studies of how COVID-19 affects fetal or child development are very limited to date because children are still very young. Healthcare in Utah.

“Our study suggests that babies born to mothers with COVID-19 at any time during pregnancy will need to be monitored as they grow,” she said.

placenta Provides Nutrition, oxygen and immune protection of the fetus until the time of birth. Studies led by Adams Waldorf have shown that women with COVID-19 have significantly higher death rate of women who do not contract COVID-19. else studies It found that pregnant women are at greater risk of hospitalization or premature birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adams Waldorf and Feltovich agree that it is not known how the various variants of COVID-19 may affect the mother or fetus.

“Studying both variables in real time is really challenging, because they keep coming in so fast, and we just can’t keep up with that,” Adams Waldorf said. “We know that the COVID-19 delta variant was worse for pregnant women, because there was a rise in stillbirths and maternal deaths. And hospitalization at that time.”

Regardless of the alternative, Adams Waldorf emphasized that it is important that women do not contract COVID-19.

Pregnant women must first be vaccinated and boosted, continue with masks and stay within a strict bubble of individuals who are also vaccinated and boosted. She acknowledges that this can mean isolation throughout pregnancy.

“The disease may be mild, or it may be severe, but we still see these abnormal effects on the placenta,” she said. “It appears that after infection with COVID-19 during pregnancy, the placenta is exhausted by the infection, and it cannot restore its immune function.”

In this study, a total of 164 pregnant individuals were studied, consisting of 24 healthy, uninfected patients as a control group and 140 individuals who contracted COVID-19. Both groups delivered at about the same time, from 37 to 38 weeks. Preterm birth occurred almost 3 times more often with patients with COVID-19 when compared to those without it. According to the study, about 75% of COVID-19 patients were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.

Placental tissue was obtained with patient consent through either the Intermountain Healthcare Research Institutional Review Board, in Salt Lake City, Utah, or the University of Washington Department of Human Subjects. Placental tissue was collected by medical providers at the time of delivery.

This work was supported primarily by funding from charitable donations and the National Institutes of Health AI143265. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other funders.