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      Pulmonary Angiopathy in Severe COVID-19: Physiologic, Imaging, and Hematologic Observations

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          Abstract

          Rationale: Clinical and epidemiologic data in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have accrued rapidly since the outbreak, but few address the underlying pathophysiology.

          Objectives: To ascertain the physiologic, hematologic, and imaging basis of lung injury in severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

          Methods: Clinical, physiologic, and laboratory data were collated. Radiologic (computed tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography [ n = 39] and dual-energy CT [DECT, n = 20]) studies were evaluated: observers quantified CT patterns (including the extent of abnormal lung and the presence and extent of dilated peripheral vessels) and perfusion defects on DECT. Coagulation status was assessed using thromboelastography.

          Measurements and Results: In 39 consecutive patients (male:female, 32:7; mean age, 53 ± 10 yr [range, 29–79 yr]; Black and minority ethnic, n = 25 [64%]), there was a significant vascular perfusion abnormality and increased physiologic dead space (dynamic compliance, 33.7 ± 14.7 ml/cm H 2O; Murray lung injury score, 3.14 ± 0.53; mean ventilatory ratios, 2.6 ± 0.8) with evidence of hypercoagulability and fibrinolytic “shutdown”. The mean CT extent (±SD) of normally aerated lung, ground-glass opacification, and dense parenchymal opacification were 23.5 ± 16.7%, 36.3 ± 24.7%, and 42.7 ± 27.1%, respectively. Dilated peripheral vessels were present in 21/33 (63.6%) patients with at least two assessable lobes (including 10/21 [47.6%] with no evidence of acute pulmonary emboli). Perfusion defects on DECT (assessable in 18/20 [90%]) were present in all patients (wedge-shaped, n = 3; mottled, n = 9; mixed pattern, n = 6).

          Conclusions: Physiologic, hematologic, and imaging data show not only the presence of a hypercoagulable phenotype in severe COVID-19 pneumonia but also markedly impaired pulmonary perfusion likely caused by pulmonary angiopathy and thrombosis.

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          Abnormal coagulation parameters are associated with poor prognosis in patients with novel coronavirus pneumonia

          Abstract Background In the recent outbreak of novel coronavirus infection in Wuhan, China, significantly abnormal coagulation parameters in severe novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) cases were a concern. Objectives To describe the coagulation feature of patients with NCP. Methods Conventional coagulation results and outcomes of 183 consecutive patients with confirmed NCP in Tongji hospital were retrospectively analyzed. Results The overall mortality was 11.5%, the non‐survivors revealed significantly higher D‐dimer and fibrin degradation product (FDP) levels, longer prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time compared to survivors on admission (P < .05); 71.4% of non‐survivors and 0.6% survivors met the criteria of disseminated intravascular coagulation during their hospital stay. Conclusions The present study shows that abnormal coagulation results, especially markedly elevated D‐dimer and FDP are common in deaths with NCP.
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            Endothelial cell infection and endotheliitis in COVID-19

            Cardiovascular complications are rapidly emerging as a key threat in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in addition to respiratory disease. The mechanisms underlying the disproportionate effect of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection on patients with cardiovascular comorbidities, however, remain incompletely understood.1, 2 SARS-CoV-2 infects the host using the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which is expressed in several organs, including the lung, heart, kidney, and intestine. ACE2 receptors are also expressed by endothelial cells. 3 Whether vascular derangements in COVID-19 are due to endothelial cell involvement by the virus is currently unknown. Intriguingly, SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect engineered human blood vessel organoids in vitro. 4 Here we demonstrate endothelial cell involvement across vascular beds of different organs in a series of patients with COVID-19 (further case details are provided in the appendix). Patient 1 was a male renal transplant recipient, aged 71 years, with coronary artery disease and arterial hypertension. The patient's condition deteriorated following COVID-19 diagnosis, and he required mechanical ventilation. Multisystem organ failure occurred, and the patient died on day 8. Post-mortem analysis of the transplanted kidney by electron microscopy revealed viral inclusion structures in endothelial cells (figure A, B ). In histological analyses, we found an accumulation of inflammatory cells associated with endothelium, as well as apoptotic bodies, in the heart, the small bowel (figure C) and lung (figure D). An accumulation of mononuclear cells was found in the lung, and most small lung vessels appeared congested. Figure Pathology of endothelial cell dysfunction in COVID-19 (A, B) Electron microscopy of kidney tissue shows viral inclusion bodies in a peritubular space and viral particles in endothelial cells of the glomerular capillary loops. Aggregates of viral particles (arrow) appear with dense circular surface and lucid centre. The asterisk in panel B marks peritubular space consistent with capillary containing viral particles. The inset in panel B shows the glomerular basement membrane with endothelial cell and a viral particle (arrow; about 150 nm in diameter). (C) Small bowel resection specimen of patient 3, stained with haematoxylin and eosin. Arrows point to dominant mononuclear cell infiltrates within the intima along the lumen of many vessels. The inset of panel C shows an immunohistochemical staining of caspase 3 in small bowel specimens from serial section of tissue described in panel D. Staining patterns were consistent with apoptosis of endothelial cells and mononuclear cells observed in the haematoxylin-eosin-stained sections, indicating that apoptosis is induced in a substantial proportion of these cells. (D) Post-mortem lung specimen stained with haematoxylin and eosin showed thickened lung septa, including a large arterial vessel with mononuclear and neutrophilic infiltration (arrow in upper inset). The lower inset shows an immunohistochemical staining of caspase 3 on the same lung specimen; these staining patterns were consistent with apoptosis of endothelial cells and mononuclear cells observed in the haematoxylin-eosin-stained sections. COVID-19=coronavirus disease 2019. Patient 2 was a woman, aged 58 years, with diabetes, arterial hypertension, and obesity. She developed progressive respiratory failure due to COVID-19 and subsequently developed multi-organ failure and needed renal replacement therapy. On day 16, mesenteric ischaemia prompted removal of necrotic small intestine. Circulatory failure occurred in the setting of right heart failure consequent to an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, and cardiac arrest resulted in death. Post-mortem histology revealed lymphocytic endotheliitis in lung, heart, kidney, and liver as well as liver cell necrosis. We found histological evidence of myocardial infarction but no sign of lymphocytic myocarditis. Histology of the small intestine showed endotheliitis (endothelialitis) of the submucosal vessels. Patient 3 was a man, aged 69 years, with hypertension who developed respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19 and required mechanical ventilation. Echocardiography showed reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. Circulatory collapse ensued with mesenteric ischaemia, and small intestine resection was performed, but the patient survived. Histology of the small intestine resection revealed prominent endotheliitis of the submucosal vessels and apoptotic bodies (figure C). We found evidence of direct viral infection of the endothelial cell and diffuse endothelial inflammation. Although the virus uses ACE2 receptor expressed by pneumocytes in the epithelial alveolar lining to infect the host, thereby causing lung injury, the ACE2 receptor is also widely expressed on endothelial cells, which traverse multiple organs. 3 Recruitment of immune cells, either by direct viral infection of the endothelium or immune-mediated, can result in widespread endothelial dysfunction associated with apoptosis (figure D). The vascular endothelium is an active paracrine, endocrine, and autocrine organ that is indispensable for the regulation of vascular tone and the maintenance of vascular homoeostasis. 5 Endothelial dysfunction is a principal determinant of microvascular dysfunction by shifting the vascular equilibrium towards more vasoconstriction with subsequent organ ischaemia, inflammation with associated tissue oedema, and a pro-coagulant state. 6 Our findings show the presence of viral elements within endothelial cells and an accumulation of inflammatory cells, with evidence of endothelial and inflammatory cell death. These findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection facilitates the induction of endotheliitis in several organs as a direct consequence of viral involvement (as noted with presence of viral bodies) and of the host inflammatory response. In addition, induction of apoptosis and pyroptosis might have an important role in endothelial cell injury in patients with COVID-19. COVID-19-endotheliitis could explain the systemic impaired microcirculatory function in different vascular beds and their clinical sequelae in patients with COVID-19. This hypothesis provides a rationale for therapies to stabilise the endothelium while tackling viral replication, particularly with anti-inflammatory anti-cytokine drugs, ACE inhibitors, and statins.7, 8, 9, 10, 11 This strategy could be particularly relevant for vulnerable patients with pre-existing endothelial dysfunction, which is associated with male sex, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and established cardiovascular disease, all of which are associated with adverse outcomes in COVID-19.
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              Clinical predictors of mortality due to COVID-19 based on an analysis of data of 150 patients from Wuhan, China

              Dear Editor, The rapid emergence of COVID-19 in Wuhan city, Hubei Province, China, has resulted in thousands of deaths [1]. Many infected patients, however, presented mild flu-like symptoms and quickly recover [2]. To effectively prioritize resources for patients with the highest risk, we identified clinical predictors of mild and severe patient outcomes. Using the database of Jin Yin-tan Hospital and Tongji Hospital, we conducted a retrospective multicenter study of 68 death cases (68/150, 45%) and 82 discharged cases (82/150, 55%) with laboratory-confirmed infection of SARS-CoV-2. Patients met the discharge criteria if they had no fever for at least 3 days, significantly improved respiratory function, and had negative SARS-CoV-2 laboratory test results twice in succession. Case data included demographics, clinical characteristics, laboratory results, treatment options and outcomes. For statistical analysis, we represented continuous measurements as means (SDs) or as medians (IQRs) which compared with Student’s t test or the Mann–Whitney–Wilcoxon test. Categorical variables were expressed as numbers (%) and compared by the χ 2 test or Fisher’s exact test. The distribution of the enrolled patients’ age is shown in Fig. 1a. There was a significant difference in age between the death group and the discharge group (p < 0.001) but no difference in the sex ratio (p = 0.43). A total of 63% (43/68) of patients in the death group and 41% (34/82) in the discharge group had underlying diseases (p = 0.0069). It should be noted that patients with cardiovascular diseases have a significantly increased risk of death when they are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (p < 0.001). A total of 16% (11/68) of the patients in the death group had secondary infections, and 1% (1/82) of the patients in the discharge group had secondary infections (p = 0.0018). Laboratory results showed that there were significant differences in white blood cell counts, absolute values of lymphocytes, platelets, albumin, total bilirubin, blood urea nitrogen, blood creatinine, myoglobin, cardiac troponin, C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) between the two groups (Fig. 1b and Supplementary Table 1). Fig. 1 a Age distribution of patients with confirmed COVID-19; b key laboratory parameters for the outcomes of patients with confirmed COVID-19; c interval from onset of symptom to death of patients with confirmed COVID-19; d summary of the cause of death of 68 died patients with confirmed COVID-19 The survival times of the enrolled patients in the death group were analyzed. The distribution of survival time from disease onset to death showed two peaks, with the first one at approximately 14 days (22 cases) and the second one at approximately 22 days (17 cases) (Fig. 1c). An analysis of the cause of death was performed. Among the 68 fatal cases, 36 patients (53%) died of respiratory failure, five patients (7%) with myocardial damage died of circulatory failure, 22 patients (33%) died of both, and five remaining died of an unknown cause (Fig. 1d). Based on the analysis of the clinical data, we confirmed that some patients died of fulminant myocarditis. In this study, we first reported that the infection of SARS-CoV-2 may cause fulminant myocarditis. Given that fulminant myocarditis is characterized by a rapid progress and a severe state of illness [3], our results should alert physicians to pay attention not only to the symptoms of respiratory dysfunction but also the symptoms of cardiac injury. Further, large-scale studies and the studies on autopsy are needed to confirm our analysis. In conclusion, predictors of a fatal outcome in COVID-19 cases included age, the presence of underlying diseases, the presence of secondary infection and elevated inflammatory indicators in the blood. The results obtained from this study also suggest that COVID-19 mortality might be due to virus-activated “cytokine storm syndrome” or fulminant myocarditis. Electronic supplementary material Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material. Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 38 kb)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Am J Respir Crit Care Med
                Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med
                ajrccm
                American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
                American Thoracic Society
                1073-449X
                1535-4970
                1 September 2020
                1 September 2020
                1 September 2020
                1 September 2020
                : 202
                : 5
                : 690-699
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ]Division of Anaesthetics, Pain Medicine, and Intensive Care, Department of Surgery and Cancer
                [ 3 ]Centre for Haematology, Department of Immunology and Inflammation, and
                [ 5 ]National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
                [ 2 ]Department of Adult Intensive Care
                [ 4 ]Department of Haematology
                [ 6 ]Department of Radiology
                [ 7 ]Department of Adult Intensive Care, and
                [ 8 ]The Pulmonary Hypertension Service, Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Brijesh V. Patel, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Anaesthetics, Pain Medicine, and Intensive Care and Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, and Department of Adult Intensive Care, The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NP, UK. E-mail: brijesh.patel@ 123456imperial.ac.uk .
                [*]

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                Article
                202004-1412OC
                10.1164/rccm.202004-1412OC
                7462405
                32667207
                Copyright © 2020 by the American Thoracic Society

                This article is open access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License 4.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). For commercial usage and reprints, please contact Diane Gern ( dgern@ 123456thoracic.org ).

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, Pages: 10
                Product
                Categories
                Original Articles
                COVID-19/Respiratory Physiology

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