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biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.12.20.521247


Previously, we and others have shown that SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific IgG antibodies play a major role in disease severity in COVID-19 by triggering macrophage hyperactivation, disrupting endothelial barrier integrity, and inducing thrombus formation. This hyperinflammation is dependent on high levels of anti-spike IgG with aberrant Fc tail glycosylation, leading to Fc{gamma} receptor hyperactivation. For development of immune-regulatory therapeutics, drug specificity is crucial to counteract excessive inflammation while simultaneously minimizing inhibition of antiviral immunity. We here developed an in vitro activation assay to screen for small molecule drugs that specifically counteract antibody-induced pathology. We identified that anti-spike induced inflammation is specifically blocked by small molecule inhibitors against SYK and PI3K. We identified SYK inhibitor entospletinib as the most promising candidate drug, which also counteracted anti-spike-induced endothelial dysfunction and thrombus formation. Moreover, entospletinib blocked inflammation by different SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Combined, these data identify entospletinib as a promising treatment for severe COVID-19.

COVID-19 , Thrombosis , Inflammation
biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.02.14.480353


The onset of severe SARS-CoV-2 infection is characterized by the presence of afucosylated IgG1 responses against the viral spike (S) protein, which can trigger exacerbated inflammatory responses. Here, we studied IgG glycosylation after BNT162b2 SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination to explore whether vaccine-induced S protein expression on host cells also generates afucosylated IgG1 responses. SARS-CoV-2 naive individuals initially showed a transient afucosylated anti-S IgG1 response after the first dose, albeit to a lower extent than severely ill COVID-19 patients. In contrast, previously infected, antigen-experienced individuals had low afucosylation levels, which slightly increased after immunization. Afucosylation levels after the first dose correlated with low fucosyltransferase 8 (FUT8) expression levels in a defined plasma cell subset. Remarkably, IgG afucosylation levels after primary vaccination correlated significantly with IgG levels after the second dose. Further studies are needed to assess efficacy, inflammatory potential, and protective capacity of afucosylated IgG responses.

COVID-19 , Oculocerebrorenal Syndrome
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.07.13.190140


For yet unknown reasons, severely ill COVID-19 patients often become critically ill around the time of activation of adaptive immunity. Here, we show that anti-Spike IgG from serum of severely ill COVID-19 patients induces a hyper-inflammatory response by human macrophages, which subsequently breaks pulmonary endothelial barrier integrity and induces microvascular thrombosis. The excessive inflammatory capacity of this anti-Spike IgG is related to glycosylation changes in the IgG Fc tail. Moreover, the hyper-inflammatory response induced by anti-Spike IgG can be specifically counteracted in vitro by use of the active component of fostamatinib, an FDA- and EMA-approved therapeutic small molecule inhibitor of Syk. One sentence summaryAnti-Spike IgG promotes hyper-inflammation.