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EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-323197


Epidemiological and clinical reports have indicated that the host immune response to SARS-CoV-2, more so than viral factors, determines COVID-19 disease severity. To elucidate the immunopathology underlying COVID-19 severity, cytokine and multiplex immune profiling was performed in mild-moderate and critically-ill COVID-19 patients. Hypercytokinemia in COVID-19 differed from the IFN-γ-driven cytokine storm in macrophage activation syndrome, and was more pronounced in critical versus mild-moderate COVID-19. Systems modelling of cytokine levels followed by deep-immune profiling showed that classical monocytes drive this hyper-inflammatory phenotype and that a reduction in T-lymphocytes correlates with disease severity, with CD8+ cells being disproportionately affected. Expression of antigen presenting machinery was reduced in critical disease, while also neutrophils contributed to disease severity and local tissue damage by amplifying hypercytokinemia and neutrophil extracellular trap formation. We suggest a myeloid-driven immunopathology, in which hyperactivated neutrophils and an ineffective adaptive immune system act as mediators of COVID-19 disease severity.

EBioMedicine ; 66: 103288, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1141720


BACKGROUND: The antifungal drug itraconazole exerts in vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 in Vero and human Caco-2 cells. Preclinical and clinical studies are required to investigate if itraconazole is effective for the treatment and/or prevention of COVID-19. METHODS: Due to the initial absence of preclinical models, the effect of itraconazole was explored in a clinical, proof-of-concept, open-label, single-center study, in which hospitalized COVID-19 patients were randomly assigned to standard of care with or without itraconazole. Primary outcome was the cumulative score of the clinical status until day 15 based on the 7-point ordinal scale of the World Health Organization. In parallel, itraconazole was evaluated in a newly established hamster model of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission, as soon as the model was validated. FINDINGS: In the hamster acute infection model, itraconazole did not reduce viral load in lungs, stools or ileum, despite adequate plasma and lung drug concentrations. In the transmission model, itraconazole failed to prevent viral transmission. The clinical trial was prematurely discontinued after evaluation of the preclinical studies and because an interim analysis showed no signal for a more favorable outcome with itraconazole: mean cumulative score of the clinical status 49 vs 47, ratio of geometric means 1.01 (95% CI 0.85 to 1.19) for itraconazole vs standard of care. INTERPRETATION: Despite in vitro activity, itraconazole was not effective in a preclinical COVID-19 hamster model. This prompted the premature termination of the proof-of-concept clinical study. FUNDING: KU Leuven, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), Horizon 2020, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Itraconazole/pharmacology , Animals , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , Antiviral Agents/pharmacokinetics , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/etiology , COVID-19/transmission , Chlorocebus aethiops , Disease Models, Animal , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Female , Humans , Itraconazole/administration & dosage , Itraconazole/pharmacokinetics , Itraconazole/therapeutic use , Male , Mesocricetus , Middle Aged , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Proof of Concept Study , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Treatment Outcome , Vero Cells