Background: The case presented here illustrates that interdisciplinary teamwork can be essential for the understanding of the COVID-19 disease presentation and enlightening of the pathophysiology.
Case presentation: A 60-years-old overweight woman without any comorbidities was found dead in her apartment after 14 days of home isolation due to suspicion on the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). She had reported symptoms of tachycardia, fever, and increasing respiratory difficulty one day before her death. Due to the Danish legal act on sudden deaths a forensic autopsy was performed including a thorough examination and biosampling. The results of the forensic autopsy displayed sever densified, almost airless, firm lungs, and an unspecific reactive minimal focal perivascular inflammation consisting of macrophages of the brain tissue. The final diagnosis, COVID-19 with involvement of the central nervous system was established by use of the RT-RNA analysis on cerebrospinal fluid, as well as by serologic detection of the specific antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 in cerebrospinal fluid and serum. The genetic analysis displayed a 2 % variation between SARS-CoV-2 isolates recovered from the tracheal sample, cerebrospinal fluid, and tissues from both lungs.
Conclusion: The combination of all available results revealed that the cause of death was COVID-19 with severe pulmonary disease and neuroinvasion, as well as renal affection resulting in hyponatremia. To our knowledge, it was not shown previously that neuroinvasion could be confirmed by the detection of specific antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 specific RNA in cerebrospinal fluid. This case supports hypotheses that SARS-CoV-2 may cause central nervous system infection. The genetic distinction between SARS-CoV-2 isolates was done by whole-genome sequencing, where the isolate recovered from the cerebrospinal fluid was the most different.