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Nat Commun ; 12(1): 6612, 2021 11 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1521738


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is not always confined to the respiratory system, as it impacts people on a broad clinical spectrum from asymptomatic to severe systemic manifestations resulting in death. Further, accumulation of intra-host single nucleotide variants during prolonged SARS-CoV-2 infection may lead to emergence of variants of concern (VOCs). Still, information on virus infectivity and intra-host evolution across organs is sparse. We report a detailed virological analysis of thirteen postmortem coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases that provides proof of viremia and presence of replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 in extrapulmonary organs of immunocompromised patients, including heart, kidney, liver, and spleen (NCT04366882). In parallel, we identify organ-specific SARS-CoV-2 genome diversity and mutations of concern N501Y, T1027I, and Y453F, while the patient had died long before reported emergence of VOCs. These mutations appear in multiple organs and replicate in Vero E6 cells, highlighting their infectivity. Finally, we show two stages of fatal disease evolution based on disease duration and viral loads in lungs and plasma. Our results provide insights about the pathogenesis and intra-host evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and show that COVID-19 treatment and hygiene measures need to be tailored to specific needs of immunocompromised patients, even when respiratory symptoms cease.

ERJ Open Res ; 7(2)2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1199897


Increased protein levels of ACE2 in alveolar epithelium of subjects who are homozygous for the ACE1 insertion of rs1799752 might facilitate host cell entry of #SARSCoV2 and explain the higher prevalence of #COVID19 in certain regions

Diabetes ; 69(12): 2691-2699, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-836138


Increased expression of pulmonary ACE2, the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, could contribute to increased infectivity of COVID-19 in patients with diabetes, but ACE2 expression has not been studied in lung tissue of subjects with diabetes. We therefore studied ACE2 mRNA and protein expression in lung tissue samples of subjects with and without diabetes that were collected between 2002 and 2020 from patients undergoing lobectomy for lung tumors. For RT-PCR analyses, samples from 15 subjects with diabetes were compared with 91 randomly chosen control samples. For immunohistochemical staining, samples from 26 subjects with diabetes were compared with 66 randomly chosen control samples. mRNA expression of ACE2 was measured by quantitative RT-PCR. Protein levels of ACE2 were visualized by immunohistochemistry on paraffin-embedded lung tissue samples and quantified in alveolar and bronchial epithelium. Pulmonary ACE2 mRNA expression was not different between subjects with or without diabetes. In contrast, protein levels of ACE2 were significantly increased in both alveolar tissue and bronchial epithelium of patients with diabetes compared with control subjects, independent of smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, BMI, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitor use, and other potential confounders. To conclude, we show increased bronchial and alveolar ACE2 protein expression in patients with diabetes. Further research is needed to elucidate whether upregulation of ACE2 expression in airways and lungs has consequences on infectivity and clinical outcomes of COVID-19.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2/complications , Lung/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19/complications , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , RNA, Messenger