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    Previous studies have confirmed the key mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 enters human cells. It is well established that ACE2 is the receptor that can mark the beginning of the infection. In light of this, the organs that express higher levels of ACE2 are generally considered at higher risk, while those with lower levels should be somehow more protected. This - if related to the scarcity of ace2-expressing cells in the brain - seems to contrast with the presence of a variety of neurological symptoms that follow infection with ace2.  The aim of this work was to analyze ACE2 expression in the human brain, focusing on the choroid plexuses. Twenty brain samples were obtained at autopsy from ten human fetuses and from ten adult subjects. All samples were selected to contain the choroid plexus. Specimens were fixed in 10% formalin, routinely processed and paraffin embedded. 5-micron sections were stained with Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) and immunostained with a commercial anti-human ACE2 rabbit monoclonal antibody at 1:100 dilution. We analyzed 20 samples by immunohistochemistry, and we noted that, as far as fetal samples are concerned, a strong reactivity for ACE2 was detected in the myxoid stroma of the choroid plexuses and in the endothelial cells in fetuses. The complete absence of the ACE2 marker was detected in epithelial cells, neurons and glial cells of the cerebral cortex, both in fetuses and in adults. Whereas a  strong but selective reactivity for ACE2 was also detected in adult choroid plexuses, mainly localized in the endothelial cells of the choroid capillaries. Our study shows a strong expression of ACE in the fetal and adult brain choroid plexuses. This new histopathological finding may clarify the susceptibility of the human brain to SARS-COV-2 infection. Our data indicate the choroid plexus as the entry gate of virus for in the human brain; therefore, the entrance of SARS-CoV-2 into the cerebrospinal fluid through the choroid plexuses might represent the mechanism utilized by this coronavirus to cause direct injury to brain cells.


    M Piras, F Cau, M Manchia, P Paribello, L Saba, J S Suri, G Faa, G Pichiri, G Cerrone, A Scano, G Orrù, G La Nasa, F Coghe, M Castagnola, D Fanni, C Gerosa. Strong ACE-2 expression in the choroidal vessels: do high choroid plexuses serve as a gateway for SARS-CoV-2 infection on the human brain? European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. 2022 Apr;26(8):3025-3029

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    PMID: 35503602

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