COVID-19 is a systemic vascular hemopathy: insight for mechanistic and clinical aspects

David M Smadja, Steven J Mentzer, Michaela Fontenay, Mike A Laffan, Maximilian Ackermann, Julie Helms, Danny Jonigk, Richard Chocron, Gerald B Pier, Nicolas Gendron, Stephanie Pons, Jean-Luc Diehl, Coert Margadant, Coralie Guerin, Elisabeth J M Huijbers, Aurélien Philippe, Nicolas Chapuis, Patrycja Nowak-Sliwinska, Christian Karagiannidis, Olivier SanchezPhilipp Kümpers, David Skurnik, Anna M Randi, Arjan W Griffioen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is presenting as a systemic disease associated with vascular inflammation and endothelial injury. Severe forms of SARS-CoV-2 infection induce acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and there is still an ongoing debate on whether COVID-19 ARDS and its perfusion defect differs from ARDS induced by other causes. Beside pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as interleukin-1 β [IL-1β] or IL-6), several main pathological phenomena have been seen because of endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction: hypercoagulation reflected by fibrin degradation products called D-dimers, micro- and macrothrombosis and pathological angiogenesis. Direct endothelial infection by SARS-CoV-2 is not likely to occur and ACE-2 expression by EC is a matter of debate. Indeed, endothelial damage reported in severely ill patients with COVID-19 could be more likely secondary to infection of neighboring cells and/or a consequence of inflammation. Endotheliopathy could give rise to hypercoagulation by alteration in the levels of different factors such as von Willebrand factor. Other than thrombotic events, pathological angiogenesis is among the recent findings. Overexpression of different proangiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) or placental growth factors (PlGF) have been found in plasma or lung biopsies of COVID-19 patients. Finally, SARS-CoV-2 infection induces an emergency myelopoiesis associated to deregulated immunity and mobilization of endothelial progenitor cells, leading to features of acquired hematological malignancies or cardiovascular disease, which are discussed in this review. Altogether, this review will try to elucidate the pathophysiology of thrombotic complications, pathological angiogenesis and EC dysfunction, allowing better insight in new targets and antithrombotic protocols to better address vascular system dysfunction. Since treating SARS-CoV-2 infection and its potential long-term effects involves targeting the vascular compartment and/or mobilization of immature immune cells, we propose to define COVID-19 and its complications as a systemic vascular acquired hemopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-788
Number of pages34
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

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