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1.
Genes Immun ; 23(1): 51-56, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585868

ABSTRACT

Toll-like receptors (TLR) are crucial components in the initiation of innate immune responses to a variety of pathogens, triggering the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and type I and II interferons, which are responsible for innate antiviral responses. Among the different TLRs, TLR7 recognizes several single-stranded RNA viruses including SARS-CoV-2. We and others identified rare loss-of-function variants in X-chromosomal TLR7 in young men with severe COVID-19 and with no prior history of major chronic diseases, that were associated with impaired TLR7 signaling as well as type I and II IFN responses. Here, we performed RNA sequencing to investigate transcriptome variations following imiquimod stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from patients carrying previously identified hypomorphic, hypofunctional, and loss-of-function TLR7 variants. Our investigation revealed a profound impairment of the TLR7 pathway in patients carrying loss-of-function variants. Of note, a failure in IFNγ upregulation following stimulation was also observed in cells harboring the hypofunctional and hypomorphic variants. We also identified new TLR7 variants in severely affected male patients for which a functional characterization of the TLR7 pathway was performed demonstrating a decrease in mRNA levels in the IFNα, IFNγ, RSAD2, ACOD1, IFIT2, and CXCL10 genes.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Toll-Like Receptor 7 , Cytokines/metabolism , Down-Regulation , Humans , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/metabolism , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Toll-Like Receptor 7/genetics , Toll-Like Receptor 7/metabolism , Toll-Like Receptor 8/genetics , Toll-Like Receptor 8/metabolism
2.
Hum Genet ; 141(1): 147-173, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1565371

ABSTRACT

The combined impact of common and rare exonic variants in COVID-19 host genetics is currently insufficiently understood. Here, common and rare variants from whole-exome sequencing data of about 4000 SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals were used to define an interpretable machine-learning model for predicting COVID-19 severity. First, variants were converted into separate sets of Boolean features, depending on the absence or the presence of variants in each gene. An ensemble of LASSO logistic regression models was used to identify the most informative Boolean features with respect to the genetic bases of severity. The Boolean features selected by these logistic models were combined into an Integrated PolyGenic Score that offers a synthetic and interpretable index for describing the contribution of host genetics in COVID-19 severity, as demonstrated through testing in several independent cohorts. Selected features belong to ultra-rare, rare, low-frequency, and common variants, including those in linkage disequilibrium with known GWAS loci. Noteworthily, around one quarter of the selected genes are sex-specific. Pathway analysis of the selected genes associated with COVID-19 severity reflected the multi-organ nature of the disease. The proposed model might provide useful information for developing diagnostics and therapeutics, while also being able to guide bedside disease management.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/physiopathology , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Phenotype , Severity of Illness Index , Whole Exome Sequencing , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Cohort Studies , Female , Germany , Humans , Italy , Male , Middle Aged , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , Quebec , SARS-CoV-2 , Sweden , United Kingdom
3.
J Clin Invest ; 131(23)2021 12 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546628

ABSTRACT

BackgroundThere is considerable variability in COVID-19 outcomes among younger adults, and some of this variation may be due to genetic predisposition.MethodsWe combined individual level data from 13,888 COVID-19 patients (n = 7185 hospitalized) from 17 cohorts in 9 countries to assess the association of the major common COVID-19 genetic risk factor (chromosome 3 locus tagged by rs10490770) with mortality, COVID-19-related complications, and laboratory values. We next performed metaanalyses using FinnGen and the Columbia University COVID-19 Biobank.ResultsWe found that rs10490770 risk allele carriers experienced an increased risk of all-cause mortality (HR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.2-1.7). Risk allele carriers had increased odds of several COVID-19 complications: severe respiratory failure (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.6-2.6), venous thromboembolism (OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2-2.4), and hepatic injury (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-2.0). Risk allele carriers age 60 years and younger had higher odds of death or severe respiratory failure (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.8-3.9) compared with those of more than 60 years (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-1.8; interaction, P = 0.038). Among individuals 60 years and younger who died or experienced severe respiratory failure, 32.3% were risk-variant carriers compared with 13.9% of those not experiencing these outcomes. This risk variant improved the prediction of death or severe respiratory failure similarly to, or better than, most established clinical risk factors.ConclusionsThe major common COVID-19 genetic risk factor is associated with increased risks of morbidity and mortality, which are more pronounced among individuals 60 years or younger. The effect was similar in magnitude and more common than most established clinical risk factors, suggesting potential implications for future clinical risk management.


Subject(s)
Alleles , COVID-19 , Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3/genetics , Gene Frequency , Genetic Loci , Polymorphism, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2 , Age Factors , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/mortality , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Patient Acuity , Risk Factors
4.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(13)2021 06 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1288901

ABSTRACT

A cytokine storm, autoimmune features and dysfunctions of myeloid cells significantly contribute to severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Genetic background of the host seems to be partly responsible for severe phenotype and genes related to innate immune response seem critical host determinants. The C9orf72 gene has a role in vesicular trafficking, autophagy regulation and lysosome functions, is highly expressed in myeloid cells and is involved in immune functions, regulating the lysosomal degradation of mediators of innate immunity. A large non-coding hexanucleotide repeat expansion (HRE) in this gene is the main genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), both characterized by neuroinflammation and high systemic levels of proinflammatory cytokines, while HREs of intermediate length, although rare, are more frequent in autoimmune disorders. C9orf72 full mutation results in haploinsufficiency and intermediate HREs seem to modulate gene expression as well and impair autophagy. Herein, we sought to explore whether intermediate HREs in C9orf72 may be a risk factor for severe COVID-19. Although we found intermediate HREs in only a small portion of 240 patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia, the magnitude of risk for requiring non-invasive or mechanical ventilation conferred by harboring intermediate repeats >10 units in at least one C9orf72 allele was more than twice respect to having shorter expansions, when adjusted for age (odds ratio (OR) 2.36; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04-5.37, p = 0.040). The association between intermediate repeats >10 units and more severe clinical outcome (p = 0.025) was also validated in an independent cohort of 201 SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. These data suggest that C9orf72 HREs >10 units may influence the pathogenic process driving more severe COVID-19 phenotypes.


Subject(s)
C9orf72 Protein/genetics , COVID-19/pathology , Microsatellite Repeats , Adult , Age Factors , Aged , Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/genetics , Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/pathology , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Female , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Genotype , Humans , Logistic Models , Male , Middle Aged , Odds Ratio , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Severity of Illness Index
5.
J Pers Med ; 11(6)2021 Jun 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1270072

ABSTRACT

The clinical presentation of COVID-19 is extremely heterogeneous, ranging from asymptomatic to severely ill patients. Thus, host genetic factors may be involved in determining disease presentation and progression. Given that carriers of single cystic fibrosis (CF)-causing variants of the CFTR gene-CF-carriers-are more susceptible to respiratory tract infections, our aim was to determine their likelihood of undergoing severe COVID-19. We implemented a cohort study of 874 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, during the first pandemic wave in Italy. Whole exome sequencing was performed and validated CF-causing variants were identified. Forty subjects (16 females and 24 males) were found to be CF-carriers. Among mechanically ventilated patients, CF-carriers were more represented (8.7%) and they were significantly (p < 0.05) younger (mean age 51 years) compared to noncarriers (mean age 61.42 years). Furthermore, in the whole cohort, the age of male CF-carriers was lower, compared to noncarriers (p < 0.05). CF-carriers had a relative risk of presenting an abnormal inflammatory response (CRP ≥ 20 mg/dL) of 1.69 (p < 0.05) and their hazard ratio of death at day 14 was 3.10 (p < 0.05) in a multivariate regression model, adjusted for age, sex and comorbidities. In conclusion, CF-carriers are more susceptible to the severe form of COVID-19, showing also higher risk of 14-day death.

6.
EBioMedicine ; 65: 103246, 2021 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1108220

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: While SARS-CoV-2 similarly infects men and women, COVID-19 outcome is less favorable in men. Variability in COVID-19 severity may be explained by differences in the host genome. METHODS: We compared poly-amino acids variability from WES data in severely affected COVID-19 patients versus SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive oligo-asymptomatic subjects. FINDINGS: Shorter polyQ alleles (≤22) in the androgen receptor (AR) conferred protection against severe outcome in COVID-19 in the first tested cohort (both males and females) of 638 Italian subjects. The association between long polyQ alleles (≥23) and severe clinical outcome (p = 0.024) was also validated in an independent cohort of Spanish men <60 years of age (p = 0.014). Testosterone was higher in subjects with AR long-polyQ, possibly indicating receptor resistance (p = 0.042 Mann-Whitney U test). Inappropriately low serum testosterone level among carriers of the long-polyQ alleles (p = 0.0004 Mann-Whitney U test) predicted the need for intensive care in COVID-19 infected men. In agreement with the known anti-inflammatory action of testosterone, patients with long-polyQ and age ≥60 years had increased levels of CRP (p = 0.018, not accounting for multiple testing). INTERPRETATION: We identify the first genetic polymorphism that appears to predispose some men to develop more severe disease. Failure of the endocrine feedback to overcome AR signaling defects by increasing testosterone levels during the infection leads to the polyQ tract becoming dominant to serum testosterone levels for the clinical outcome. These results may contribute to designing reliable clinical and public health measures and provide a rationale to test testosterone as adjuvant therapy in men with COVID-19 expressing long AR polyQ repeats. FUNDING: MIUR project "Dipartimenti di Eccellenza 2018-2020" to Department of Medical Biotechnologies University of Siena, Italy (Italian D.L. n.18 March 17, 2020) and "Bando Ricerca COVID-19 Toscana" project to Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Senese. Private donors for COVID-19 research and charity funds from Intesa San Paolo.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Peptides/genetics , Receptors, Androgen/genetics , Aged , Case-Control Studies , Critical Care/statistics & numerical data , Female , Genome, Human/genetics , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide/genetics , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index , Spain , Testosterone/blood
7.
Eur J Hum Genet ; 29(5): 745-759, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1033853

ABSTRACT

Within the GEN-COVID Multicenter Study, biospecimens from more than 1000 SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals have thus far been collected in the GEN-COVID Biobank (GCB). Sample types include whole blood, plasma, serum, leukocytes, and DNA. The GCB links samples to detailed clinical data available in the GEN-COVID Patient Registry (GCPR). It includes hospitalized patients (74.25%), broken down into intubated, treated by CPAP-biPAP, treated with O2 supplementation, and without respiratory support (9.5%, 18.4%, 31.55% and 14.8, respectively); and non-hospitalized subjects (25.75%), either pauci- or asymptomatic. More than 150 clinical patient-level data fields have been collected and binarized for further statistics according to the organs/systems primarily affected by COVID-19: heart, liver, pancreas, kidney, chemosensors, innate or adaptive immunity, and clotting system. Hierarchical clustering analysis identified five main clinical categories: (1) severe multisystemic failure with either thromboembolic or pancreatic variant; (2) cytokine storm type, either severe with liver involvement or moderate; (3) moderate heart type, either with or without liver damage; (4) moderate multisystemic involvement, either with or without liver damage; (5) mild, either with or without hyposmia. GCB and GCPR are further linked to the GCGDR, which includes data from whole-exome sequencing and high-density SNP genotyping. The data are available for sharing through the Network for Italian Genomes, found within the COVID-19 dedicated section. The study objective is to systematize this comprehensive data collection and begin identifying multi-organ involvement in COVID-19, defining genetic parameters for infection susceptibility within the population, and mapping genetically COVID-19 severity and clinical complexity among patients.


Subject(s)
Biological Specimen Banks , COVID-19/genetics , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Registries , SARS-CoV-2 , Specimen Handling , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Italy , Male
8.
Int J Epidemiol ; 50(1): 75-86, 2021 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-990694

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: There has been uncertainty about the safety or benefit of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. We used Mendelian randomization using genetic determinants of serum-ACE levels to test whether decreased ACE levels increase susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 severity, while reducing potential bias from confounding and reverse causation in observational studies. METHODS: Genetic variants strongly associated with ACE levels, which were nearby the ACE gene, were identified from the ORIGIN trial and a separate genome-wide association study (GWAS) of ACE levels from the AGES cohort. The ORIGIN trial included 4147 individuals of European and Latino ancestries. Sensitivity analyses were performed using a study of 3200 Icelanders. Cohorts from the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative GWAS of up to 960 186 individuals of European ancestry were used for COVID-19 susceptibility, hospitalization and severe-disease outcome. RESULTS: Genetic variants were identified that explain between 18% and 37% of variance in ACE levels. Using genetic variants from the ORIGIN trial, a standard-deviation decrease in ACE levels was not associated with an increase in COVID-19 susceptibility [odds ratio (OR): 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.90, 1.15], hospitalization (OR: 0.86, 95% CI: 0.68, 1.08) or severe disease (OR: 0.74, 95% CI: 0.51, 1.06). Using genetic variants from the AGES cohort, the result was similar for susceptibility (OR: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.89, 1.09), hospitalization (OR: 0.86, 95% CI: 0.66, 1.11) and severity (OR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.50, 1.14). Multiple-sensitivity analyses led to similar results. CONCLUSION: Genetically decreased serum ACE levels were not associated with susceptibility to, or severity of, COVID-19 disease. These data suggest that individuals taking ACE inhibitors should not discontinue therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/blood , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology , COVID-19/blood , Cardiovascular Diseases/drug therapy , Cardiovascular Diseases/virology , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Female , Genome-Wide Association Study , Humans , Male , Mendelian Randomization Analysis , Pandemics , Risk Factors , Severity of Illness Index
9.
PLoS One ; 15(11): e0242534, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-934336

ABSTRACT

Clinical and molecular characterization by Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) is reported in 35 COVID-19 patients attending the University Hospital in Siena, Italy, from April 7 to May 7, 2020. Eighty percent of patients required respiratory assistance, half of them being on mechanical ventilation. Fiftyone percent had hepatic involvement and hyposmia was ascertained in 3 patients. Searching for common genes by collapsing methods against 150 WES of controls of the Italian population failed to give straightforward statistically significant results with the exception of two genes. This result is not unexpected since we are facing the most challenging common disorder triggered by environmental factors with a strong underlying heritability (50%). The lesson learned from Autism-Spectrum-Disorders prompted us to re-analyse the cohort treating each patient as an independent case, following a Mendelian-like model. We identified for each patient an average of 2.5 pathogenic mutations involved in virus infection susceptibility and pinpointing to one or more rare disorder(s). To our knowledge, this is the first report on WES and COVID-19. Our results suggest a combined model for COVID-19 susceptibility with a number of common susceptibility genes which represent the favorite background in which additional host private mutations may determine disease progression.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/therapy , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Whole Exome Sequencing , Aged , COVID-19/diagnosis , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prognosis
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