Objective. Patients with underlying heart diseases have a higher risk of dying from Covid-19. It has also been suggested that Covid-19 affects the heart through myocarditis. Despite the rapidly growing research on the management of Covid-19 associated complications, most of the ongoing research is focused on the respiratory complications of Covid-19, and little is known about the prevalence of myocarditis. Design. This study aimed to characterize myocardial involvement by using a panel of antibodies to detect hypoxic and inflammatory changes and the presence of SARS-CoV-2 proteins in heart tissues obtained during the autopsy procedure of Covid-19 deceased patients. Thirty-seven fatal COVID-19 cases and 21 controls were included in this study. Results. Overall, the Covid-19 hearts had several histopathological changes like the waviness of myocytes, fibrosis, contract band necrosis, infiltration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils, vacuolization, and necrosis of myocytes. In addition, endothelial damage and activation were detected in heart tissue. However, viral replication was not detected using RNA in situ hybridization. Also, lymphocyte infiltration, as a hallmark of myocarditis, was not seen in this study. Conclusion. No histological sign of myocarditis was detected in any of our cases; our findings are thus most congruent with the hypothesis of the presence of a circulating endothelium activating factor such as VEGF, originating outside of the heart, probably from the hypoxic part of the Covid-19 lungs.
Keywords: COVID-19; Myocarditis; heart; hypoxia; inflammation.