Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein on retrieved thrombi from COVID-19 patients

The pathophysiology of COVID-19-associated coagulopathy is complex and not fully understood. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (SP) may activate platelets and interact with fibrin(ogen). We aimed to investigate whether isolated SP can be present in clots retrieved in COVID-19 patients with acute ischemic stroke (by mechanical thrombectomy) and myocardial infarction. In this pilot study, we could detect SP, but not nucleocapsid protein, on platelets of COVID-19 patients’ thrombi. In addition, in all three COVID-19 thrombi analyzed for molecular biology, no SARS-CoV-2 RNA could be detected by real-time polymerase chain reaction. These data could support the hypothesis that free SP, besides the whole virus, may be the trigger of platelet activation and clot formation in COVID-19.