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Morphological alterations and stress protein variations in lung biopsies obtained from autopsies of covid-19 subjects

  • Autori: Barone R.; Gammazza A.M.; Paladino L.; Pitruzzella A.; Spinoso G.; Salerno M.; Sessa F.; Pomara C.; Cappello F.; Rappa F.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2021
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Molecular chaperones, many of which are heat shock proteins, play a role in cell stress response and regulate the immune system in various ways, such as in inflammatory/autoimmune reactions. It would be interesting to study the involvement of these molecules in the damage done to COVID-19-infected lungs. In our study, we performed a histological analysis and an immunomorphological evaluation on lung samples from subjects who succumbed to COVID-19 and subjects who died from other causes. We also assessed Hsp60 and Hsp90 distribution in lung samples to determine their location and post-translational modifications. We found histological alterations that could be considered pathognomonic for COVID-19-related lung disease. Hsp60 and Hsp90 immunopositivity was significantly higher in the COVID-19 group compared to the controls, and immunolocalization was in the plasma membrane of the endothelial cells in COVID-19 subjects. The colocalization ratios for Hsp60/3-nitrotyrosine and Hsp60/acetylate-lisine were significantly increased in the COVID-19 group compared to the control group, similar to the colocalization ratio for Hsp90/acetylate-lisine. The histological and immunohistochemical findings led us to hypothesize that Hsp60 and Hsp90 might have a role in the onset of the thromboembolic phenomena that lead to death in a limited number of subjects affected by COVID-19. Further studies on a larger number of samples obtained from autopsies would allow to confirm these data as well as discover new biomarkers useful in the battle against this disease.