Sexually dimorphic placental responses to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Journal Article

There is a persistent male bias in the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 disease. Underlying mechanisms accounting for this sex difference remain incompletely understood. Interferon responses have been implicated as a modulator of disease in adults, and play a key role in the placental anti-viral response. Moreover, the interferon response has been shown to alter Fc-receptor expression, and therefore may impact placental antibody transfer. Here we examined the intersection of viral-induced placental interferon responses, maternal-fetal antibody transfer, and fetal sex. Placental interferon stimulated genes (ISGs), Fc-receptor expression, and SARS-CoV-2 antibody transfer were interrogated in 68 pregnancies. Sexually dimorphic placental expression of ISGs, interleukin-10, and Fc receptors was observed following maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection, with upregulation in males. Reduced maternal SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody titers and impaired placental antibody transfer were noted in pregnancies with a male fetus. These results demonstrate fetal sex-specific maternal and placental adaptive and innate immune responses to SARS-CoV-2.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bordt, EA; Shook, LL; Atyeo, C; Pullen, KM; De Guzman, RM; Meinsohn, M-C; Chauvin, M; Fischinger, S; Yockey, LJ; James, K; Lima, R; Yonker, LM; Fasano, A; Brigida, S; Bebell, LM; Roberts, DJ; Pépin, D; Huh, JR; Bilbo, SD; Li, JZ; Kaimal, A; Schust, D; Gray, KJ; Lauffenburger, D; Alter, G; Edlow, AG

Published Date

  • March 29, 2021

Published In

  • Biorxiv

PubMed ID

  • 33821279

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8020979

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/2021.03.29.437516


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States