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1.
researchsquare; 2022.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-RESEARCHSQUARE | ID: ppzbmed-10.21203.rs.3.rs-2222184.v1

ABSTRACT

Despite intensive research since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, it has remained unclear precisely which components of the early immune response protect against the development of severe COVID-19. To address this issue, we performed a comprehensive immunogenetic and virologic analysis of nasopharyngeal and peripheral blood samples obtained during the acute phase of infection with SARS-CoV-2. We found that soluble and transcriptional markers of systemic inflammation peaked during the first week after symptom onset and correlated directly with the upper airways viral loads (UA-VLs), whereas the contemporaneous frequencies of circulating viral nucleocapsid (NC)-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells correlated inversely with various inflammatory markers and UA-VLs. In addition, we observed high frequencies of activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in acutely infected nasopharyngeal tissue, many of which expressed genes encoding various effector molecules, such as cytotoxic proteins and IFN-γ. The presence of functionally active T cells in the infected epithelium was further linked with common patterns of gene expression among virus-susceptible target cells and better local control of SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, these results identified an immune correlate of protection against SARS-CoV-2, which could inform the development of more effective vaccines to combat the acute and chronic illnesses attributable to COVID-19.

2.
ssrn; 2021.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-SSRN | ID: ppzbmed-10.2139.ssrn.3787894

ABSTRACT

The immune system of most SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals limits viral spread to the upper airways without pulmonary involvement. This prevents the development of pneumonic COVID-19. However, the protective immunological responses causative of successful viral containment in the upper airways remain unclear. Here, we combine longitudinal single-cell RNA sequencing, proteomic profiling, multidimensional flow cytometry, RNA-Seq of FACS-sorted leukocyte subsets and multiplex plasma interferon profiling to uncover temporally resolved protective immune signatures in non-pneumonic and ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected patients.We compare host responses in a high-risk patient population infected with SARS-CoV-2 but without pulmonary involvement to patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. Our data reveal a distinct immunological signature of successful viral containment, characterized by an early prominent interferon stimulated gene (ISG) upregulation across immune cell subsets. In addition, reduced cytotoxic potential of Natural Killer (NK) and T cells, as well as a monocyte phenotype with immune-modulatory potential are hallmarks of protective immunity. Temporal resolution across disease trajectories highlights ISG upregulation as particularly prominent early in the disease and confirms increased expression also in comparison to healthy controls.We validate this distinct temporal ISG signature by in-depth RNA-seq of FACS-sorted leukocyte subsets in a large prospective ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected cohort confirming early and robust ISG upregulation particularly in monocytes and T cells. In vitro experiments show that Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) agonist treatment of PBMCs recapitulates the identified protective immunological signature and might therefore offer a novel therapeutic approach in early disease, without being affected by previously described anti-interferon antibodies. In conclusion, our data demonstrate a protective ISG phenotype in patients with successful containment of SARS-CoV-2 infection without progression to COVID-19. This early protective interferon response might be exploited as a therapeutic approach and for disease course prediction.Funding: This study was supported by the Deutsche Herzstiftung e.V., Frankfurt a.M. [LN],Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) SFB 914 (S.M. [B02 and Z01], K.S. [B02]), the DFG SFB 1123 (S.M. [B06], K.S. [A07]), M.J and R.Z [Z02]), the DFG FOR 2033 (S.M.), the DGF SFB1243 (W.E., L.E.W. [A14], the DGF EN 1093/2-1 (W.E., A.J.), the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) (Clinician Scientist Programme [L.N.], MHA 1.4VD [S.M.]), DZIF MD student programme (TI 07.003_Deák [F.D.]), FP7 program (project 260309, PRESTIGE [S.M.]), FöFoLe project 1015/1009 (L.N.), and the DFG Clinician Scientist Programme PRIME (413635475, K.P., R.K.). The work was also supported by the European Research Council (ERC 2018-ADG “IMMUNOTHROMBOSIS” [S.M.] and ERC- “T-MEMORE” [K.S.])The CORKUM cohort study was supported by LMUexcellent, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Free State of Bavaria under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder.The Koco19-Immu Study is funded by Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Helmholtz Centre Munich, University of Bonn, University of Bielefeld, German Ministry for Education and Research (Project No.: 01KI20271).Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.Ethical Approval: In accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, and with the approval of the Ethics Committee of Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich, informed consent of the patients or their guardians was obtained. COVID-19 patients are part of the COVID-19 Registry of the LMU University Hospital Munich (CORKUM, WHO trial ID DRKS00021225). Pseudonymizeddata was used for analysis, the CORKUM and KocoImmu studies were approved by the ethics committee of LMUMunich (No: 20-245 & No: 20-371 respectively).

3.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.02.03.429351

ABSTRACT

The immune system of most SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals limits viral spread to the upper airways without pulmonary involvement. This prevents the development of pneumonic COVID-19. However, the protective immunological responses causative of successful viral containment in the upper airways remain unclear. Here, we combine longitudinal single-cell RNA sequencing, proteomic profiling, multidimensional flow cytometry, RNA-Seq of FACS-sorted leukocyte subsets and multiplex plasma interferon profiling to uncover temporally resolved protective immune signatures in non-pneumonic and ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. We compare host responses in a high-risk patient population infected with SARS-CoV-2 but without pulmonary involvement to patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. Our data reveal a distinct immunological signature of successful viral containment, characterized by an early prominent interferon stimulated gene (ISG) upregulation across immune cell subsets. In addition, reduced cytotoxic potential of Natural Killer (NK) and T cells, as well as a monocyte phenotype with immune-modulatory potential are hallmarks of protective immunity. Temporal resolution across disease trajectories highlights ISG upregulation as particularly prominent early in the disease and confirms increased expression also in comparison to healthy controls. We validate this distinct temporal ISG signature by in-depth RNA-seq of FACS-sorted leukocyte subsets in a large prospective ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected cohort confirming early and robust ISG upregulation particularly in monocytes and T cells. In conclusion, our data demonstrate a protective ISG phenotype in patients with successful containment of SARS-CoV-2 infection without progression to COVID-19. This early protective interferon response might be exploited as a therapeutic approach and for disease course prediction.

4.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.13.21249735

ABSTRACT

BackgroundSerosurveys are essential to understand SARS-CoV-2 exposure and enable population-level surveillance, but currently available tests need further in-depth evaluation. We aimed to identify testing-strategies by comparing seven seroassays in a population-based cohort. MethodsWe analysed 6,658 samples consisting of true-positives (n=193), true-negatives (n=1,091), and specimens of unknown status (n=5,374). For primary testing, we used Euroimmun-Anti-SARS-CoV-2-ELISA-IgA/IgG and Roche-Elecsys-Anti-SARS-CoV-2; and virus-neutralisation, GeneScript(R)cPass, VIRAMED-SARS-CoV-2-ViraChip(R), and Mikrogen-recomLine-SARS-CoV-2-IgG, including common-cold CoVs, for confirmatory testing. Statistical modelling generated optimised assay cut-off-thresholds. FindingsSensitivity of Euroimmun-anti-S1-IgA was 64.8%, specificity 93.3%; for Euroimmun-anti-S1-IgG, sensitivity was 77.2/79.8% (manufacturers/optimised cut-offs), specificity 98.0/97.8%; Roche-anti-N sensitivity was 85.5/88.6%, specificity 99.8/99.7%. In true-positives, mean and median titres remained stable for at least 90-120 days after RT-PCR-positivity. Of true-positives with positive RT-PCR (<30 days), 6.7% did not mount detectable seroresponses. Virus-neutralisation was 73.8% sensitive, 100.0% specific (1:10 dilution). Neutralisation surrogate tests (GeneScript(R)cPass, Mikrogen-recomLine-RBD) were >94.9% sensitive, >98.1% specific. Seasonality had limited effects; cross-reactivity with common-cold CoVs 229E and NL63 in SARS-CoV-2 true-positives was significant. ConclusionOptimised cut-offs improved test performances of several tests. Non-reactive serology in true-positives was uncommon. For epidemiological purposes, confirmatory testing with virus-neutralisation may be replaced with GeneScript(R)cPass or recomLine-RBD. Head-to-head comparisons given here aim to contribute to the refinement of testing-strategies for individual and public health use.

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