Evidence of Renal Infection in Fatal Cases of 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1)

Am J Clin Pathol. 2011 Sep;136(3):416-23. doi: 10.1309/AJCP1Y6LLHWSKYHW.


The 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) caused significant morbidity and mortality. Acute lung injury is the hallmark of the disease, but multiple organ system dysfunction can develop and lead to death. Therefore, we sought to investigate whether there was postmortem evidence of H1N1 presence and virus-induced organ injury in autopsy specimens. Five cases in which patients died of influenza A (H1N1) virus infection were studied. The lungs of all patients showed macroscopic and microscopic findings already described for H1N1 (consolidation, edema, hemorrhage, alveolar damage, hyaline membrane, and inflammation), and H1N1 viruses were present in alveolar cells in immunochemical studies. Acute tubular necrosis was present in all cases, but there was no evidence of direct virus-induced kidney injury. Nevertheless, H1N1 viruses were found in the cytoplasm of glomerular macrophages in the kidneys of 4 patients. Therefore, our data provide strong evidence that H1N1 presence is not restricted to the lungs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Influenza, Human / complications
  • Influenza, Human / mortality
  • Influenza, Human / virology*
  • Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Kidney Diseases / mortality
  • Kidney Diseases / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies