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EClinicalMedicine ; 40: 101099, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1385454


BACKGROUND: Since the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there has been increasing urgency to identify pathophysiological characteristics leading to severe clinical course in patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Human leukocyte antigen alleles (HLA) have been suggested as potential genetic host factors that affect individual immune response to SARS-CoV-2. We sought to evaluate this hypothesis by conducting a multicenter study using HLA sequencing. METHODS: We analyzed the association between COVID-19 severity and HLAs in 435 individuals from Germany (n = 135), Spain (n = 133), Switzerland (n = 20) and the United States (n = 147), who had been enrolled from March 2020 to August 2020. This study included patients older than 18 years, diagnosed with COVID-19 and representing the full spectrum of the disease. Finally, we tested our results by meta-analysing data from prior genome-wide association studies (GWAS). FINDINGS: We describe a potential association of HLA-C*04:01 with severe clinical course of COVID-19. Carriers of HLA-C*04:01 had twice the risk of intubation when infected with SARS-CoV-2 (risk ratio 1.5 [95% CI 1.1-2.1], odds ratio 3.5 [95% CI 1.9-6.6], adjusted p-value = 0.0074). These findings are based on data from four countries and corroborated by independent results from GWAS. Our findings are biologically plausible, as HLA-C*04:01 has fewer predicted bindings sites for relevant SARS-CoV-2 peptides compared to other HLA alleles. INTERPRETATION: HLA-C*04:01 carrier state is associated with severe clinical course in SARS-CoV-2. Our findings suggest that HLA class I alleles have a relevant role in immune defense against SARS-CoV-2. FUNDING: Funded by Roche Sequencing Solutions, Inc.

Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-359935


While SARS-CoV-2 infection has pleiotropic and systemic effects in some patients, many others experience milder symptoms. We sought a holistic understanding of the severe/mild distinction in COVID-19 pathology, and its origins. We performed a whole-blood preserving single-cell analysis protocol to integrate contributions from all major cell types including neutrophils, monocytes, platelets, lymphocytes and the contents of serum. Patients with mild COVID-19 disease display a coordinated pattern of interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression across every cell population and these cells are systemically absent in patients with severe disease. Severe COVID-19 patients also paradoxically produce very high anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody titers and have lower viral load as compared to mild disease. Examination of the serum from severe patients demonstrates that they uniquely produce antibodies with multiple patterns of specificity against interferon-stimulated cells and that those antibodies functionally block the production of the mild disease-associated ISG-expressing cells. Overzealous and auto-directed antibody responses pit the immune system against itself in many COVID-19 patients and this defines targets for immunotherapies to allow immune systems to provide viral defense. One Sentence SummaryIn severe COVID-19 patients, the immune system fails to generate cells that define mild disease; antibodies in their serum actively prevents the successful production of those cells.