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Am J Respir Crit Care Med ; 204(9): 1024-1034, 2021 11 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1495777


Rationale: ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2), the entry receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is expressed in type 2 alveolar epithelial cells (AT2) that may play key roles in postinjury repair. An imbalance between ACE2 and ACE has also been hypothesized to contribute to lung injury. Objectives: To characterize the expression and distribution of ACE2 and ACE and to compare AT2 with endothelial cell expression in coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related or -unrelated acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and controls. Methods: Lung tissue stainings (using multiplex immunofluorescence) and serum concentrations of ACEs were determined retrospectively in two different cohorts of patients. AT2 and endothelial cells were stained in lung tissue for ProSPC (pro-surfactant protein C) and CD31, respectively. Measurements and Main Results: Pulmonary ACE2 expression was increased in patients with COVID-19-related and -unrelated ARDS (0.06% of tissue area and 0.12% vs. 0.006% for control subjects; P = 0.013 and P < 0.0001, respectively). ACE2 was upregulated in endothelial cells (0.32% and 0.53% vs. 0.01%; P = 0.009 and P < 0.0001) but not in AT2 cells (0.13% and 0.08% vs. 0.03%; P = 0.94 and P = 0.44). Pulmonary expression of ACE was decreased in both COVID-19-related and -unrelated ARDS (P = 0.057 and P = 0.032). Similar increases in ACE2 and decreases in ACE were observed in sera of COVID-19 (P = 0.0054 and P < 0.0001) and non-COVID-19 ARDS (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.016). In addition, AT2 cells were decreased in patients with COVID-19-related ARDS compared with COVID-19-unrelated ARDS (1.395% vs. 2.94%, P = 0.0033). Conclusions: ACE2 is upregulated in lung tissue and serum of both COVID-19-related and -unrelated ARDS, whereas a loss of AT2 cells is selectively observed in COVID-19-related ARDS.

Alveolar Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/metabolism , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/metabolism , Adult , Aged , Biomarkers/metabolism , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/physiopathology , Case-Control Studies , Female , Humans , Immunohistochemistry , Logistic Models , Male , Middle Aged , Proportional Hazards Models , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/diagnosis , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/virology , Retrospective Studies , Severity of Illness Index , Up-Regulation
Aging (Albany NY) ; 12(20): 19911-19922, 2020 10 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-892549


Telomeres are non-coding DNA sequences that protect chromosome ends and shorten with age. Short telomere length (TL) is associated with chronic diseases and immunosenescence. The main risk factor for mortality of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is older age, but outcome is very heterogeneous among individuals of the same age group. Therefore, we hypothesized that TL influences COVID-19-related outcomes. In a prospective study, we measured TL by Flow-FISH in 70 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and compared TL distribution with our reference cohort of 491 healthy volunteers. We also correlated TL with baseline clinical and biological parameters. We stained autopsy lung tissue from six non-survivor COVID-19 patients to detect senescence-associated ß-galactosidase activity, a marker of cellular aging. We found a significantly higher proportion of patients with short telomeres (<10th percentile) in the COVID-19 patients as compared to the reference cohort (P<0.001). Short telomeres were associated with a higher risk of critical disease, defined as admission to intensive care unit (ICU) or death without ICU. TL was negatively correlated with C-reactive protein and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio. Finally, lung tissue from patients with very short telomeres exhibit signs of senescence in structural and immune cells. Our results suggest that TL influences the severity of the disease.

Coronavirus Infections , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Telomere Homeostasis , Telomere , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19 , Cellular Senescence , Female , Humans , Lung/pathology , Male , Middle Aged , Prospective Studies