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Blood ; 136(10): 1169-1179, 2020 09 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-748867


COVID-19 affects millions of patients worldwide, with clinical presentation ranging from isolated thrombosis to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring ventilator support. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) originate from decondensed chromatin released to immobilize pathogens, and they can trigger immunothrombosis. We studied the connection between NETs and COVID-19 severity and progression. We conducted a prospective cohort study of COVID-19 patients (n = 33) and age- and sex-matched controls (n = 17). We measured plasma myeloperoxidase (MPO)-DNA complexes (NETs), platelet factor 4, RANTES, and selected cytokines. Three COVID-19 lung autopsies were examined for NETs and platelet involvement. We assessed NET formation ex vivo in COVID-19 neutrophils and in healthy neutrophils incubated with COVID-19 plasma. We also tested the ability of neonatal NET-inhibitory factor (nNIF) to block NET formation induced by COVID-19 plasma. Plasma MPO-DNA complexes increased in COVID-19, with intubation (P < .0001) and death (P < .0005) as outcome. Illness severity correlated directly with plasma MPO-DNA complexes (P = .0360), whereas Pao2/fraction of inspired oxygen correlated inversely (P = .0340). Soluble and cellular factors triggering NETs were significantly increased in COVID-19, and pulmonary autopsies confirmed NET-containing microthrombi with neutrophil-platelet infiltration. Finally, COVID-19 neutrophils ex vivo displayed excessive NETs at baseline, and COVID-19 plasma triggered NET formation, which was blocked by nNIF. Thus, NETs triggering immunothrombosis may, in part, explain the prothrombotic clinical presentations in COVID-19, and NETs may represent targets for therapeutic intervention.

Coronavirus Infections/complications , Extracellular Traps/immunology , Neutrophils/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/complications , Thrombosis/complications , Adult , Aged , Betacoronavirus/immunology , Blood Platelets/immunology , Blood Platelets/pathology , Blood Proteins/immunology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Neutrophil Infiltration , Neutrophils/pathology , Pandemics , Peroxidase/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Thrombosis/immunology , Thrombosis/pathology
J Exp Med ; 217(6)2020 06 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-72158


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel, viral-induced respiratory disease that in ∼10-15% of patients progresses to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) triggered by a cytokine storm. In this Perspective, autopsy results and literature are presented supporting the hypothesis that a little known yet powerful function of neutrophils-the ability to form neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs)-may contribute to organ damage and mortality in COVID-19. We show lung infiltration of neutrophils in an autopsy specimen from a patient who succumbed to COVID-19. We discuss prior reports linking aberrant NET formation to pulmonary diseases, thrombosis, mucous secretions in the airways, and cytokine production. If our hypothesis is correct, targeting NETs directly and/or indirectly with existing drugs may reduce the clinical severity of COVID-19.

Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Extracellular Traps , Lung Diseases , Neutrophils/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/complications , Cytokines/metabolism , Humans , Lung Diseases/etiology , Lung Diseases/metabolism , Lung Diseases/pathology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/complications , SARS-CoV-2
Transl Res ; 220: 1-13, 2020 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-60383


Acute respiratory failure and a systemic coagulopathy are critical aspects of the morbidity and mortality characterizing infection with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome-associated coronavirus-2, the etiologic agent of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We examined skin and lung tissues from 5 patients with severe COVID-19 characterized by respiratory failure (n= 5) and purpuric skin rash (n = 3). COVID-19 pneumonitis was predominantly a pauci-inflammatory septal capillary injury with significant septal capillary mural and luminal fibrin deposition and permeation of the interalveolar septa by neutrophils. No viral cytopathic changes were observed and the diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) with hyaline membranes, inflammation, and type II pneumocyte hyperplasia, hallmarks of classic acute respiratory distress syndrome, were not prominent. These pulmonary findings were accompanied by significant deposits of terminal complement components C5b-9 (membrane attack complex), C4d, and mannose binding lectin (MBL)-associated serine protease (MASP)2, in the microvasculature, consistent with sustained, systemic activation of the complement pathways. The purpuric skin lesions similarly showed a pauci-inflammatory thrombogenic vasculopathy, with deposition of C5b-9 and C4d in both grossly involved and normally-appearing skin. In addition, there was co-localization of COVID-19 spike glycoproteins with C4d and C5b-9 in the interalveolar septa and the cutaneous microvasculature of 2 cases examined. In conclusion, at least a subset of sustained, severe COVID-19 may define a type of catastrophic microvascular injury syndrome mediated by activation of complement pathways and an associated procoagulant state. It provides a foundation for further exploration of the pathophysiologic importance of complement in COVID-19, and could suggest targets for specific intervention.

Betacoronavirus , Complement System Proteins/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/complications , Microvessels/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/complications , Respiratory Insufficiency/etiology , Thrombosis/etiology , Adult , Aged , COVID-19 , Complement Activation/physiology , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Female , Humans , Male , Microvessels/virology , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Purpura/etiology , Purpura/pathology , Purpura/virology , Respiratory Insufficiency/pathology , SARS-CoV-2 , Thrombosis/pathology