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Cell Res ; 31(12): 1244-1262, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1493090


The infusion of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) potentially improves clinical symptoms, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We conducted a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled (29 patients/group) phase II clinical trial to validate previous findings and explore the potential mechanisms. Patients treated with umbilical cord-derived MSCs exhibited a shorter hospital stay (P = 0.0198) and less time required for symptoms remission (P = 0.0194) than those who received placebo. Based on chest images, both severe and critical patients treated with MSCs showed improvement by day 7 (P = 0.0099) and day 21 (P = 0.0084). MSC-treated patients had fewer adverse events. MSC infusion reduced the levels of C-reactive protein, proinflammatory cytokines, and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and promoted the maintenance of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies. To explore how MSCs modulate the immune system, we employed single-cell RNA sequencing analysis on peripheral blood. Our analysis identified a novel subpopulation of VNN2+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor-like (HSPC-like) cells expressing CSF3R and PTPRE that were mobilized following MSC infusion. Genes encoding chemotaxis factors - CX3CR1 and L-selectin - were upregulated in various immune cells. MSC treatment also regulated B cell subsets and increased the expression of costimulatory CD28 in T cells in vivo and in vitro. In addition, an in vivo mouse study confirmed that MSCs suppressed NET release and reduced venous thrombosis by upregulating kindlin-3 signaling. Together, our results underscore the role of MSCs in improving COVID-19 patient outcomes via maintenance of immune homeostasis.

COVID-19/therapy , Immunomodulation , Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation , Aged , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/blood , B-Lymphocyte Subsets/cytology , B-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology , B-Lymphocyte Subsets/metabolism , C-Reactive Protein/analysis , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cytokines/genetics , Cytokines/metabolism , Cytoskeletal Proteins/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Extracellular Traps/metabolism , Female , Humans , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/cytology , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/metabolism , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , T-Lymphocytes/cytology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , Venous Thrombosis/metabolism , Venous Thrombosis/pathology
Front Cardiovasc Med ; 7: 598400, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1485042


The coronavirus pandemic has reportedly infected over 31.5 million individuals and caused over 970,000 deaths worldwide (as of 22nd Sept 2020). This novel coronavirus, officially named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), although primarily causes significant respiratory distress, can have significant deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system. Severe cases of the virus frequently result in respiratory distress requiring mechanical ventilation, often seen, but not confined to, individuals with pre-existing hypertension and cardiovascular disease, potentially due to the fact that the virus can enter the circulation via the lung alveoli. Here the virus can directly infect vascular tissues, via TMPRSS2 spike glycoprotein priming, thereby facilitating ACE-2-mediated viral entry. Clinical manifestations, such as vasculitis, have been detected in a number of vascular beds (e.g., lungs, heart, and kidneys), with thromboembolism being observed in patients suffering from severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19), suggesting the virus perturbs the vasculature, leading to vascular dysfunction. Activation of endothelial cells via the immune-mediated inflammatory response and viral infection of either endothelial cells or cells involved in endothelial homeostasis, are some of the multifaceted mechanisms potentially involved in the pathogenesis of vascular dysfunction within COVID-19 patients. In this review, we examine the evidence of vascular manifestations of SARS-CoV-2, the potential mechanism(s) of entry into vascular tissue and the contribution of endothelial cell dysfunction and cellular crosstalk in this vascular tropism of SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, we discuss the current evidence on hypercoagulability and how it relates to increased microvascular thromboembolic complications in COVID-19.

Aging Dis ; 11(2): 216-228, 2020 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1102674


A coronavirus (HCoV-19) has caused the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, China. Preventing and reversing the cytokine storm may be the key to save the patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to possess a comprehensive powerful immunomodulatory function. This study aims to investigate whether MSC transplantation improves the outcome of 7 enrolled patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Beijing YouAn Hospital, China, from Jan 23, 2020 to Feb 16, 2020. The clinical outcomes, as well as changes of inflammatory and immune function levels and adverse effects of 7 enrolled patients were assessed for 14 days after MSC injection. MSCs could cure or significantly improve the functional outcomes of seven patients without observed adverse effects. The pulmonary function and symptoms of these seven patients were significantly improved in 2 days after MSC transplantation. Among them, two common and one severe patient were recovered and discharged in 10 days after treatment. After treatment, the peripheral lymphocytes were increased, the C-reactive protein decreased, and the overactivated cytokine-secreting immune cells CXCR3+CD4+ T cells, CXCR3+CD8+ T cells, and CXCR3+ NK cells disappeared in 3-6 days. In addition, a group of CD14+CD11c+CD11bmid regulatory DC cell population dramatically increased. Meanwhile, the level of TNF-α was significantly decreased, while IL-10 increased in MSC treatment group compared to the placebo control group. Furthermore, the gene expression profile showed MSCs were ACE2- and TMPRSS2- which indicated MSCs are free from COVID-19 infection. Thus, the intravenous transplantation of MSCs was safe and effective for treatment in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, especially for the patients in critically severe condition.

Front Cardiovasc Med ; 7: 602183, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1000071


The global pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has led to 47 m infected cases and 1. 2 m (2.6%) deaths. A hallmark of more severe cases of SARS-CoV-2 in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) appears to be a virally-induced over-activation or unregulated response of the immune system, termed a "cytokine storm," featuring elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-2, IL-6, IL-7, IL-22, CXCL10, and TNFα. Whilst the lungs are the primary site of infection for SARS-CoV-2, in more severe cases its effects can be detected in multiple organ systems. Indeed, many COVID-19 positive patients develop cardiovascular complications, such as myocardial injury, myocarditis, cardiac arrhythmia, and thromboembolism, which are associated with higher mortality. Drug and cell therapies targeting immunosuppression have been suggested to help combat the cytokine storm. In particular, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), owing to their powerful immunomodulatory ability, have shown promise in early clinical studies to avoid, prevent or attenuate the cytokine storm. In this review, we will discuss the mechanistic underpinnings of the cytokine storm on the cardiovascular system, and how MSCs potentially attenuate the damage caused by the cytokine storm induced by COVID-19. We will also address how MSC transplantation could alleviate the long-term complications seen in some COVID-19 patients, such as improving tissue repair and regeneration.