Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research Published in Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

By Camren Clouthier | May 18 2021

Biopsy figures.Research from the Department of Pathology was recently published within the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The study highlights and analyzes gastrointestinal pathology samples from coronavirus (COVID-19)-positive patients in order to better understand which manifestations are caused. The publication features the team of Drs. Maria Westerhoff, Dan Jones, Steven Hrycaj, May Chan, Liron Pantanowitz, Tu Huolin, Karen Choi, Joel Greenson, and Laura Lamps.

The initial objective for the study was to evaluate the histopathology and in-situ hybridization (ISH) for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in gastrointestinal samples from patients with recent and remote cases of COVID-19. "To carry out the procedure, data was collected from approximately twenty-five patients," explains Westerhoff.

Five had positive SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal tests within 7 days of their gastrointestinal procedure. Two patients had cases of ulcerative colitis and were on steroid therapy. These individuals lacked typical COVID-19 symptoms. Their colectomies indicated severe ulcerative colitis; one demonstrated SARS-CoV-2 by next-generation sequencing (NGS), but a negative ISH. Another had an ischemic colon resected as a complication of the COVID-19 course; however, both ISH and NGS were negative. A fourth patient had normal-appearing terminal ileum, but positive ISH and NGS. The fifth patient had ileal ulcers with SARS-CoV-2 negativity by both modalities. The remaining 20 patients had positive nasopharyngeal tests an average of 53 days prior to procedure. None of their samples demonstrated SARS-CoV-2 ISH positivity, but one was positive on NGS despite a negative nasopharyngeal test.

Conclusively, gastrointestinal findings from SARS-CoV-2-infected patients ranged from normal with virus detected by ISH and NGS, to bowel ischemia secondary to systemic viral effects, without evidence of the virus in the tissue. "In summary, GI tract specimens from COVID-19 patients in our study did not show unique histologic features of viral infection; however, it is important for pathologists to know that sequelae secondary to the systemic effects of the virus, such as ischemia, may be encountered," notes Westerhoff.

The full publication within Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine is available here.