Fetal Brain Vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2 Infection

The study titled “Fetal Brain Vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2 Infection” published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, explores the potential impact of COVID-19 on fetal brain development.

Here is a detailed summary of the study:

Study Background:

  • The study investigates whether SARS-CoV-2 can cross from a pregnant mother to the fetus and its effects on fetal brain development.


  • Utilized human ACE2 knock-in mice, infected with SARS-CoV-2.
  • Examined viral transmission to fetal tissues, including the brain, and its effects.
  • Employed a range of techniques like RT-qPCR, imaging flow cytometry, and immunofluorescence.

Key Findings:

  1. Viral Transmission to Fetus: SARS-CoV-2 transmission to the fetus, including the brain, was confirmed, primarily affecting male fetuses.
  2. Cell Type Targeting: The virus targeted various cell types in the fetal brain, including neurons, glia, and choroid plexus cells.
  3. No Significant Cell Death: Despite the infection, no significant changes in cell death levels were observed at 48 hours post-infection (hpi).
  4. Reactive Gliosis: However, the study noted reactive gliosis (a form of scar formation in the central nervous system) in infected brains 7 days post-infection (dpi), even after viral clearance.
  5. Maternal Inflammation: Surprisingly, no increase in maternal inflammation was detected despite clinical signs of disease and greater viral dissemination to the brain in pregnant mice compared to nonpregnant ones.
  6. Early Developmental Differences: Infected litters showed pre-term birth and early gross developmental differences compared to mock-infected litters.


  • The findings indicate that SARS-CoV-2 can infect the fetal brain and might have implications on neurodevelopment, without necessarily causing immediate cell death.
  • It underscores the importance of preventative measures against COVID-19 during pregnancy.


  • This study provides significant insights into the potential risks of prenatal COVID-19 exposure on fetal brain development, emphasizing the need for further research and caution during pregnancy.

This summary encapsulates the study’s findings and implications, highlighting the potential risks of COVID-19 on fetal brain development, an important topic for healthcare professionals and expectant mothers.

Read More: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159123001599

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