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


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.

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
Nat Biotechnol ; 39(6): 705-716, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-997913


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.

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
EMBO J ; 39(10): e105114, 2020 05 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-380778


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic affecting the human respiratory system severely challenges public health and urgently demands for increasing our understanding of COVID-19 pathogenesis, especially host factors facilitating virus infection and replication. SARS-CoV-2 was reported to enter cells via binding to ACE2, followed by its priming by TMPRSS2. Here, we investigate ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression levels and their distribution across cell types in lung tissue (twelve donors, 39,778 cells) and in cells derived from subsegmental bronchial branches (four donors, 17,521 cells) by single nuclei and single cell RNA sequencing, respectively. While TMPRSS2 is strongly expressed in both tissues, in the subsegmental bronchial branches ACE2 is predominantly expressed in a transient secretory cell type. Interestingly, these transiently differentiating cells show an enrichment for pathways related to RHO GTPase function and viral processes suggesting increased vulnerability for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data provide a rich resource for future investigations of COVID-19 infection and pathogenesis.

Bronchi/cytology , Gene Expression , Lung/cytology , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Single-Cell Analysis , Adult , Aging , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Bronchi/metabolism , COVID-19 , Cells, Cultured , Chronic Disease/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Female , Gene Expression Profiling , Germany , Goblet Cells/metabolism , Humans , Lung/metabolism , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/genetics , Reference Standards , Sequence Analysis, RNA , Sex Characteristics , Smoking , Tissue Banks