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PLoS One ; 17(8): e0273430, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2021918


The COVID-19 pandemic has been fueled by SARS-CoV-2 novel variants of concern (VOC) that have increased transmissibility, receptor binding affinity, and other properties that enhance disease. The goal of this study is to characterize unique pathogenesis of the Delta VOC strain in the K18-hACE2-mouse challenge model. Challenge studies suggested that the lethal dose of Delta was higher than Alpha or Beta strains. To characterize the differences in the Delta strain's pathogenesis, a time-course experiment was performed to evaluate the overall host response to Alpha or Delta variant challenge. qRT-PCR analysis of Alpha- or Delta-challenged mice revealed no significant difference between viral RNA burden in the lung, nasal wash or brain. However, histopathological analysis revealed high lung tissue inflammation and cell infiltration following Delta- but not Alpha-challenge at day 6. Additionally, pro-inflammatory cytokines were highest at day 6 in Delta-challenged mice suggesting enhanced pneumonia. Total RNA-sequencing analysis of lungs comparing challenged to no challenge mice revealed that Alpha-challenged mice have more total genes differentially activated. Conversely, Delta-challenged mice have a higher magnitude of differential gene expression. Delta-challenged mice have increased interferon-dependent gene expression and IFN-γ production compared to Alpha. Analysis of TCR clonotypes suggested that Delta challenged mice have increased T-cell infiltration compared to Alpha challenged. Our data suggest that Delta has evolved to engage interferon responses in a manner that may enhance pathogenesis. The in vivo and in silico observations of this study underscore the need to conduct experiments with VOC strains to best model COVID-19 when evaluating therapeutics and vaccines.

COVID-19 , Pneumonia , Animals , Antiviral Agents , COVID-19/genetics , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Interferons , Melphalan , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , gamma-Globulins
mSphere ; 6(1)2021 01 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1039855


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is impacting the global population. This study was designed to assess the interplay of antibodies with the cytokine response in SARS-CoV-2 patients. We demonstrate that significant levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody to receptor binding domain (RBD), nucleocapsid, and spike S1 subunit of SARS-CoV-2 develop over the first 10 to 20 days of infection. The majority of patients produced antibodies against all three antigens (219/255 SARS-CoV-2+ patient specimens, 86%), suggesting a broad response to viral proteins. Antibody levels to SARS-CoV-2 antigens were different based on patient mortality, sex, blood type, and age. Analyses of these findings may help explain variation in immunity between these populations. To better understand the systemic immune response, we analyzed the levels of 20 cytokines by SARS-CoV-2 patients throughout infection. Cytokine analysis of SARS-CoV-2+ patients exhibited increases in proinflammatory markers (interleukin 6 [IL-6], IL-8, IL-18, and gamma interferon [IFN-γ]) and chemotactic markers (IP-10 and eotaxin) relative to healthy individuals. Patients who succumbed to infection produced decreased IL-2, IL-4, IL-12, RANTES, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), GRO-α, and MIP-1α relative to patients who survived infection. We also observed that the chemokine CXCL13 was particularly elevated in patients who succumbed to infection. CXCL13 is involved in B cell activation, germinal center development, and antibody maturation, and we observed that CXCL13 levels in blood trended with anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels. Furthermore, patients who succumbed to infection produced high CXCL13 and had a higher ratio of nucleocapsid to RBD antibodies. This study provides insights into SARS-CoV-2 immunity implicating the magnitude and specificity of response in relation to patient outcomes.IMPORTANCE The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is continuing to impact the global population, and knowledge of the immune response to COVID-19 is still developing. This study assesses the interplay of different parts of the immune system during COVID-19 disease. We demonstrate that COVID-19 patients produce antibodies to three proteins of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) and identify many other immunological proteins that are involved during infection. The data suggest that one of these proteins (CXCL13) may be a novel biomarker for severe COVID-19 that can be readily measured in blood. This information combined with our broad-scale analysis of immune activity during COVID-19 provides new information on the immunological response throughout the course of disease and identifies a novel potential marker for assessing disease severity.

Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/diagnosis , Chemokine CXCL13/blood , Cytokines/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Biomarkers , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/mortality , Cytokines/blood , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Severity of Illness Index , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Young Adult