Publication date: Sep 21, 2023
COVID-19 is a global pandemic. Understanding the immune responses in pregnant women recovering from COVID-19 may suggest new therapeutic approaches. We performed a cross-sectional study between March 1, 2020, and September 1, 2020. Participants were assigned into the convalescent COVID-19 group if they had a previous COVID-19 infection during pregnancy or the healthy control group. RNA-Seq was performed on human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUMSCs) and human amniotic mesenchymal stem cells (hAMSCs). Immunohistochemical staining, cytokine testing, lymphocyte subset analysis, RNA-Seq, and functional analyses were performed on the placental and umbilical cord blood (UCB) and compared between the two groups. A total of 40 pregnant women were enrolled, with 13 in the convalescent group and 27 in the control group. There were 1024, 46, and 32 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) identified in the placental tissue, hUMSCs, and hAMSCs between the convalescent and control groups, respectively. Enrichment analysis showed those DEGs were associated with immune homeostasis, antiviral activity, cell proliferation, and tissue repair. Levels of IL-6, TNF-α, total lymphocyte counts, B lymphocytes, Tregs percentages, and IFN-γ expressing CD4 and CD8 T cells were statistically different between two groups (p ≤ 0. 05). ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expressed on the placenta were not different between the two groups (p > 0. 05). Multiple changes in immune responses occurred in the placental tissue, hUMSCs, and hAMSCs after maternal recovery from COVID-19, which might imply their protective roles against COVID-19 infection.
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