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1.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 10(1): 2151-2168, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541485

ABSTRACT

Infection by (re-)emerging RNA arboviruses including Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Mayaro virus primarily cause acute febrile disease and transient polyarthralgia. However, in a significant subset of infected individuals, debilitating arthralgia persists for weeks over months up to years. The underlying immunopathogenesis of chronification of arthralgia upon primary RNA-viral infection remains unclear. Here, we analysed cell-intrinsic responses to ex vivo arthritogenic alphaviral infection of primary human synovial fibroblasts isolated from knee joints, one the most affected joint types during acute and chronic CHIKV disease. Synovial fibroblasts were susceptible and permissive to alphaviral infection. Base-line and exogenously added type I interferon (IFN) partially and potently restricted infection, respectively. RNA-seq revealed a CHIKV infection-induced transcriptional profile that comprised upregulation of expression of several hundred IFN-stimulated and arthralgia-mediating genes. Single-cell virus-inclusive RNA-seq uncovered a fine-tuned switch from induction to repression of cell-intrinsic immune responses depending on the abundance of viral RNA in an individual cell. Specifically, responses were most pronounced in cells displaying low-to-intermediate amounts of viral RNA and absence of virus-encoded, fluorescent reporter protein expression, arguing for efficient counteraction of innate immunity in cells expressing viral antagonists at sufficient quantities. In summary, cell-intrinsic sensing of viral RNA that potentially persists or replicates at low levels in synovial fibroblasts and other target cell types in vivo may contribute to the chronic arthralgia induced by alphaviral infections. Our findings might advance our understanding of the immunopathophysiology of long-term pathogenesis of RNA-viral infections.

2.
Cell ; 184(26): 6243-6261.e27, 2021 12 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1536467

ABSTRACT

COVID-19-induced "acute respiratory distress syndrome" (ARDS) is associated with prolonged respiratory failure and high mortality, but the mechanistic basis of lung injury remains incompletely understood. Here, we analyze pulmonary immune responses and lung pathology in two cohorts of patients with COVID-19 ARDS using functional single-cell genomics, immunohistology, and electron microscopy. We describe an accumulation of CD163-expressing monocyte-derived macrophages that acquired a profibrotic transcriptional phenotype during COVID-19 ARDS. Gene set enrichment and computational data integration revealed a significant similarity between COVID-19-associated macrophages and profibrotic macrophage populations identified in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. COVID-19 ARDS was associated with clinical, radiographic, histopathological, and ultrastructural hallmarks of pulmonary fibrosis. Exposure of human monocytes to SARS-CoV-2, but not influenza A virus or viral RNA analogs, was sufficient to induce a similar profibrotic phenotype in vitro. In conclusion, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 triggers profibrotic macrophage responses and pronounced fibroproliferative ARDS.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/pathology , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/virology , Macrophages/pathology , Macrophages/virology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Antigens, CD/metabolism , Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic/metabolism , COVID-19/diagnostic imaging , Cell Communication , Cohort Studies , Fibroblasts/pathology , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/diagnostic imaging , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/genetics , Mesenchymal Stem Cells/pathology , Phenotype , Proteome/metabolism , Receptors, Cell Surface/metabolism , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/diagnostic imaging , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/pathology , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/virology , Tomography, X-Ray Computed , Transcription, Genetic
3.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-292822

ABSTRACT

Purpose: Six-19% of critically ill COVID-19 patients display circulating auto-antibodies against type I interferons (IFN-AABs). Here, we establish a clinically applicable strategy for early identification of IFN-AAB-positive patients for potential subsequent clinical interventions. Methods We analysed sera of 430 COVID-19 patients with severe and critical disease from four hospitals for presence of IFN-AABs by ELISA. Binding specificity and neutralizing activity were evaluated via competition assay and virus-infection-based neutralization assay. We defined clinical parameters associated with IFN-AAB positivity. In a subgroup of critically ill patients, we analyzed effects of therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) on the levels of IFN-AABs, SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and clinical outcome. Results The prevalence of neutralizing AABs to IFN-α and IFN-ω in COVID-19 patients was 4.2% (18/430), while being undetectable in an uninfected control cohort. Neutralizing IFN-AABs were detectable exclusively in critically affected, predominantly male (83%) patients (7.6% IFN-α and 4.6% IFN-ω in 207 patients with critical COVID-19). IFN-AABs were present early post-symptom onset and at the peak of disease. Fever and oxygen requirement at hospital admission co-presented with neutralizing IFN-AAB positivity. IFN-AABs were associated with higher mortality (92.3% versus 19.1 % in patients without IFN-AABs). TPE reduced levels of IFN-AABs in three of five patients and may increase survival of IFN-AAB-positive patients compared to those not undergoing TPE. Conclusion IFN-AABs may serve as early biomarker for development of severe COVID-19. We propose to implement routine screening of hospitalized COVID-19 patients according to our algorithm for rapid identification of patients with IFN-AABs who most likely benefit from specific therapies.

4.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4584, 2021 07 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387354

ABSTRACT

Interferon-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs 1, 2 and 3) can restrict viral pathogens, but pro- and anti-viral activities have been reported for coronaviruses. Here, we show that artificial overexpression of IFITMs blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, endogenous IFITM expression supports efficient infection of SARS-CoV-2 in human lung cells. Our results indicate that the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein interacts with IFITMs and hijacks them for efficient viral infection. IFITM proteins were expressed and further induced by interferons in human lung, gut, heart and brain cells. IFITM-derived peptides and targeting antibodies inhibit SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication in human lung cells, cardiomyocytes and gut organoids. Our results show that IFITM proteins are cofactors for efficient SARS-CoV-2 infection of human cell types representing in vivo targets for viral transmission, dissemination and pathogenesis and are potential targets for therapeutic approaches.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Antigens, Differentiation/genetics , Membrane Proteins/genetics , RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/antagonists & inhibitors , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antigens, Differentiation/metabolism , Binding Sites , COVID-19/virology , Gene Expression Regulation , Host-Pathogen Interactions/drug effects , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , Interferon-beta/pharmacology , Membrane Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , RNA, Small Interfering/genetics , RNA, Small Interfering/metabolism , RNA-Binding Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Homology, Amino Acid , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Attachment/drug effects
5.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4869, 2021 08 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1354100

ABSTRACT

In COVID-19, immune responses are key in determining disease severity. However, cellular mechanisms at the onset of inflammatory lung injury in SARS-CoV-2 infection, particularly involving endothelial cells, remain ill-defined. Using Syrian hamsters as a model for moderate COVID-19, we conduct a detailed longitudinal analysis of systemic and pulmonary cellular responses, and corroborate it with datasets from COVID-19 patients. Monocyte-derived macrophages in lungs exert the earliest and strongest transcriptional response to infection, including induction of pro-inflammatory genes, while epithelial cells show weak alterations. Without evidence for productive infection, endothelial cells react, depending on cell subtypes, by strong and early expression of anti-viral, pro-inflammatory, and T cell recruiting genes. Recruitment of cytotoxic T cells as well as emergence of IgM antibodies precede viral clearance at day 5 post infection. Investigating SARS-CoV-2 infected Syrian hamsters thus identifies cell type-specific effector functions, providing detailed insights into pathomechanisms of COVID-19 and informing therapeutic strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Disease Models, Animal , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/immunology , Animals , Cricetinae , Cytokines/genetics , Cytokines/immunology , Endothelial Cells/immunology , Humans , Immunoglobulin M/immunology , Inflammation , Lung/immunology , Macrophages/immunology , Mesocricetus , Monocytes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Signal Transduction , T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic/immunology , Toll-Like Receptors/immunology
6.
iScience ; 24(8): 102908, 2021 Aug 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1330909

ABSTRACT

The current severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has created a significant threat to global health. While respiratory aerosols or droplets are considered as the main route of human-to-human transmission, secretions expelled by infected individuals can also contaminate surfaces and objects, potentially creating the risk of fomite-based transmission. Consequently, frequently touched objects such as paper currency and coins have been suspected as potential transmission vehicle. To assess the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by banknotes and coins, we examined the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and bovine coronavirus, as surrogate with lower biosafety restrictions, on these different means of payment and developed a touch transfer method to examine transfer efficiency from contaminated surfaces to fingertips. Although we observed prolonged virus stability, our results indicate that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via contaminated coins and banknotes is unlikely and requires high viral loads and a timely order of specific events.

7.
J Clin Invest ; 131(14)2021 07 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1311204

ABSTRACT

Autoantibodies against IFN-α and IFN-ω (type I IFNs) were recently reported as causative for severe COVID-19 in the general population. Autoantibodies against IFN-α and IFN-ω are present in almost all patients with autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 1 (APS-1) caused by biallelic deleterious or heterozygous dominant mutations in AIRE. We therefore hypothesized that autoantibodies against type I IFNs also predispose patients with APS-1 to severe COVID-19. We prospectively studied 6 patients with APS-1 between April 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021. Biobanked pre-COVID-19 sera of APS-1 subjects were tested for neutralizing autoantibodies against IFN-α and IFN-ω. The ability of the patients' sera to block recombinant human IFN-α and IFN-ω was assessed by assays quantifying phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) as well as infection-based IFN-neutralization assays. We describe 4 patients with APS-1 and preexisting high titers of neutralizing autoantibodies against IFN-α and IFN-ω who contracted SARS-CoV-2, yet developed only mild symptoms of COVID-19. None of the patients developed dyspnea, oxygen requirement, or high temperature. All infected patients with APS-1 were females and younger than 26 years of age. Clinical penetrance of neutralizing autoantibodies against type I IFNs for severe COVID-19 is not complete.


Subject(s)
Autoantibodies/immunology , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/immunology , Interferon Type I/antagonists & inhibitors , Interferon Type I/immunology , Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune/complications , Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune/immunology , SARS-CoV-2 , Adolescent , Adult , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Autoantibodies/blood , Female , Humans , In Vitro Techniques , Interferon-alpha/antagonists & inhibitors , Interferon-alpha/immunology , Male , Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Severity of Illness Index , Transcription Factors/genetics , Virus Replication/immunology , Young Adult
8.
Lancet Microbe ; 2(5): e210-e218, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1117258

ABSTRACT

Background: The COVID-19 agent, SARS-CoV-2, is conspecific with SARS-CoV, the causal agent of the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic in 2002-03. Although the viruses share a completely homologous repertoire of proteins and use the same cellular entry receptor, their transmission efficiencies and pathogenetic traits differ. We aimed to compare interferon antagonism by SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. Methods: For this functional study, we infected Vero E6 and Calu-3 cells with strains of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. We studied differences in cell line-specific replication (Vero E6 vs Calu-3 cells) and analysed these differences in relation to TMPRSS2-dependent cell entry based on inhibition with the drug camostat mesilate. We evaluated viral sensitivity towards type I interferon treatment and assessed cytokine induction and type I interferon signalling in the host cells by RT-PCR and analysis of transcription factor activation and nuclear translocation. Based on reverse genetic engineering of SARS-CoV, we investigated the contribution of open reading frame 6 (ORF6) to the observed phenotypic differences in interferon signalling, because ORF6 encodes an interferon signalling antagonist. We did a luciferase-based interferon-stimulated response element promotor activation assay to evaluate the antagonistic capacity of SARS-CoV-2 wild-type ORF6 constructs and three mutants (Gln51Glu, Gln56Glu, or both) that represent amino acid substitutions between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 protein 6 in the carboxy-terminal domain. Findings: Overall, replication was higher for SARS-CoV in Vero E6 cells and for SARS-CoV-2 in Calu-3 cells. SARS-CoV-2 was reliant on TMPRSS2, found only in Calu-3 cells, for more efficient entry. SARS-CoV-2 was more sensitive to interferon treatment, less efficient in suppressing cytokine induction via IRF3 nuclear translocation, and permissive of a higher level of induction of interferon-stimulated genes MX1 and ISG56. SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 expressed in the context of a fully replicating SARS-CoV backbone suppressed MX1 gene induction, but this suppression was less efficient than that by SARS-CoV ORF6. Mutagenesis showed that charged amino acids in residues 51 and 56 shift the phenotype towards more efficient interferon antagonism, as seen in SARS-CoV. Interpretation: SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 interferes less efficiently with human interferon induction and interferon signalling than SARS-CoV ORF6. Because of the homology of the genes, onward selection for fitness could involve functional optimisation of interferon antagonism. Charged amino acids at positions 51 and 56 in ORF6 should be monitored for potential adaptive changes. Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, EU RECOVER project.

9.
Nat Biotechnol ; 38(8): 970-979, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1023942

ABSTRACT

To investigate the immune response and mechanisms associated with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we performed single-cell RNA sequencing on nasopharyngeal and bronchial samples from 19 clinically well-characterized patients with moderate or critical disease and from five healthy controls. We identified airway epithelial cell types and states vulnerable to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. In patients with COVID-19, epithelial cells showed an average three-fold increase in expression of the SARS-CoV-2 entry receptor ACE2, which correlated with interferon signals by immune cells. Compared to moderate cases, critical cases exhibited stronger interactions between epithelial and immune cells, as indicated by ligand-receptor expression profiles, and activated immune cells, including inflammatory macrophages expressing CCL2, CCL3, CCL20, CXCL1, CXCL3, CXCL10, IL8, IL1B and TNF. The transcriptional differences in critical cases compared to moderate cases likely contribute to clinical observations of heightened inflammatory tissue damage, lung injury and respiratory failure. Our data suggest that pharmacologic inhibition of the CCR1 and/or CCR5 pathways might suppress immune hyperactivation in critical COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Coronavirus Infections/physiopathology , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/physiopathology , Respiratory System/pathology , Single-Cell Analysis , Transcriptome , Adult , Aged , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/virology , COVID-19 , Cell Communication , Cell Differentiation , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Epithelial Cells/pathology , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Humans , Immune System/pathology , Inflammation/immunology , Inflammation/pathology , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Nasopharynx/virology , Pandemics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Respiratory System/immunology , Respiratory System/virology , Severity of Illness Index
10.
Nat Biotechnol ; 39(6): 705-716, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-997913

ABSTRACT

In coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), hypertension and cardiovascular diseases are major risk factors for critical disease progression. However, the underlying causes and the effects of the main anti-hypertensive therapies-angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)-remain unclear. Combining clinical data (n = 144) and single-cell sequencing data of airway samples (n = 48) with in vitro experiments, we observed a distinct inflammatory predisposition of immune cells in patients with hypertension that correlated with critical COVID-19 progression. ACEI treatment was associated with dampened COVID-19-related hyperinflammation and with increased cell intrinsic antiviral responses, whereas ARB treatment related to enhanced epithelial-immune cell interactions. Macrophages and neutrophils of patients with hypertension, in particular under ARB treatment, exhibited higher expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines CCL3 and CCL4 and the chemokine receptor CCR1. Although the limited size of our cohort does not allow us to establish clinical efficacy, our data suggest that the clinical benefits of ACEI treatment in patients with COVID-19 who have hypertension warrant further investigation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , Chemokine CCL3/genetics , Chemokine CCL4/genetics , Hypertension/drug therapy , Receptors, CCR1/genetics , Adult , Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists/administration & dosage , Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists/adverse effects , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors/administration & dosage , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors/adverse effects , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Disease Progression , Female , Gene Expression Regulation/drug effects , Humans , Hypertension/complications , Hypertension/genetics , Hypertension/pathology , Inflammation/complications , Inflammation/drug therapy , Inflammation/genetics , Inflammation/virology , Male , Middle Aged , RNA-Seq , Respiratory System/drug effects , Respiratory System/pathology , Respiratory System/virology , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Single-Cell Analysis
11.
Cell ; 182(6): 1419-1440.e23, 2020 09 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-694631

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a mild to moderate respiratory tract infection, however, a subset of patients progress to severe disease and respiratory failure. The mechanism of protective immunity in mild forms and the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 associated with increased neutrophil counts and dysregulated immune responses remain unclear. In a dual-center, two-cohort study, we combined single-cell RNA-sequencing and single-cell proteomics of whole-blood and peripheral-blood mononuclear cells to determine changes in immune cell composition and activation in mild versus severe COVID-19 (242 samples from 109 individuals) over time. HLA-DRhiCD11chi inflammatory monocytes with an interferon-stimulated gene signature were elevated in mild COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 was marked by occurrence of neutrophil precursors, as evidence of emergency myelopoiesis, dysfunctional mature neutrophils, and HLA-DRlo monocytes. Our study provides detailed insights into the systemic immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and reveals profound alterations in the myeloid cell compartment associated with severe COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Myeloid Cells/immunology , Myelopoiesis , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Adult , Aged , CD11 Antigens/genetics , CD11 Antigens/metabolism , COVID-19 , Cells, Cultured , Coronavirus Infections/blood , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Female , HLA-DR Antigens/genetics , HLA-DR Antigens/metabolism , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Myeloid Cells/cytology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/blood , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Proteome/genetics , Proteome/metabolism , Proteomics , Single-Cell Analysis
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