The 2019 Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak had detrimental effects on essential medical services such as organ and tissue donation. Lombardy, one of the most active Italian regions in organ/tissue procurement, has been strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, data concerning the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission after tissue transplantation are controversial. Here, we aimed to evaluate the presence/absence of SARS-CoV-2 in different cardiac tissues eligible for transplantation obtained from Lombard donors. We used cardiovascular tissues from eight donors potentially suitable for pulmonary valve transplantation. All donor subjects involved in the study returned negative results for the SARS-CoV-2 RNA molecular tests (quantitative real-time reverse-transcription PCR, qRT-PCR, and chip-based digital PCR) in nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) or bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). None of the eight donors included in this study revealed the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome. However, evaluation of the protein content of pulmonary vein wall (PVW) tissue revealed variable levels of SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein signal in all donors. Our study demonstrated for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, that viral nucleoprotein but not viral RNA was present in the examined tissue bank specimens, suggesting the need for caution and in-depth investigations on implantable tissue specimens collected during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
Perrucci GL, Sommariva E, Ricci V, Songia P, D'Alessandra Y, Poggio P, Pompilio G, Polvani G, Guarino A. Presence of SARS-CoV-2 Nucleoprotein in Cardiac Tissues of Donors with Negative COVID-19 Molecular Tests. Diagnostics (Basel) 2021 Apr 20;11(4):731.doi: 10.3390/diagnostics11040731