June 2021
Volume 62, Issue 8
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2021
The Presence of SARS-CoV-2 in Human Corneal Tissue
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Umangi Patel
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
    Florida Lions Ocular Pathology Laboratory, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • YUAN LIU
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Darlene Miller
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
    Microbiology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Andrea Naranjo
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
    Florida Lions Ocular Pathology Laboratory, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Xiangxiang Liu
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Jorge Maestre-Mesa
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
    Microbiology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Elizabeth Fout
    Florida Lions Ocular Pathology Laboratory, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Richard K Lee
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Sander R Dubovy
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
    Florida Lions Ocular Pathology Laboratory, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Umangi Patel, None; YUAN LIU, None; Darlene Miller, None; Andrea Naranjo, None; Xiangxiang Liu, None; Jorge Maestre-Mesa, None; Elizabeth Fout, None; Richard Lee, None; Sander Dubovy, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2021, Vol.62, 713. doi:
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      Umangi Patel, YUAN LIU, Darlene Miller, Andrea Naranjo, Xiangxiang Liu, Jorge Maestre-Mesa, Elizabeth Fout, Richard K Lee, Sander R Dubovy; The Presence of SARS-CoV-2 in Human Corneal Tissue. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(8):713.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Purpose : The involvement of severe acute respiratory syndrome related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in ocular tissue is currently poorly understood. This study examines the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in cornea tissue from postmortem donors with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection

Methods : We conducted a retrospective analysis of human cornea tissue from nine postmortem SARS-CoV-2 positive donors to examine for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and protein. All tissue donors were confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 via nasopharyngeal swab during tissue recovery. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), immunofluorescence, and histopathologic evaluations were performed to examine for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins (spike, nucleocapsid) and human viral ligands, angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane protease serine type 2 (TMPRSS2).

Results : RT-PCR analysis of cornea tissue demonstrated 100% (9 of 9) positivity for SARS-CoV-2 RNA in right corneal tissue and 77.8% (7 of 9) positivity in left corneal tissue. Immunofluorescence demonstrated the presence of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 within the corneal epithelium and endothelium. SARS-CoV-2 spike and nucleocapsid proteins were present in 77.8% and 88.9% of corneal epithelial tissue and in 88.9% and 66.7% of corneal endothelial tissue, right and left respectively. ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression co-localized with SARS-CoV-2 spike and nucleocapsid proteins. Histopathologic evaluation was unremarkable for all nine pairs of specimens.

Conclusions : This retrospective case series demonstrates the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within cornea tissue using RT-PCR. Furthermore, we show by immunofluorescence that spike and nucleocapsid SARS-CoV-2 proteins within the cornea colocalized native ligands in the epithelium and endothelium. Further investigation is warranted for the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and the utilization of SARS-CoV-2 positive tissue in corneal transplant surgeries

This is a 2021 ARVO Annual Meeting abstract.

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