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PLoS Pathog ; 17(9): e1009804, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1416909

ABSTRACT

Prior studies have demonstrated that immunologic dysfunction underpins severe illness in COVID-19 patients, but have lacked an in-depth analysis of the immunologic drivers of death in the most critically ill patients. We performed immunophenotyping of viral antigen-specific and unconventional T cell responses, neutralizing antibodies, and serum proteins in critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, using influenza infection, SARS-CoV-2-convalescent health care workers, and healthy adults as controls. We identify mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cell activation as an independent and significant predictor of death in COVID-19 (HR = 5.92, 95% CI = 2.49-14.1). MAIT cell activation correlates with several other mortality-associated immunologic measures including broad activation of CD8+ T cells and non-Vδ2 γδT cells, and elevated levels of cytokines and chemokines, including GM-CSF, CXCL10, CCL2, and IL-6. MAIT cell activation is also a predictor of disease severity in influenza (ECMO/death HR = 4.43, 95% CI = 1.08-18.2). Single-cell RNA-sequencing reveals a shift from focused IFNα-driven signals in COVID-19 ICU patients who survive to broad pro-inflammatory responses in fatal COVID-19 -a feature not observed in severe influenza. We conclude that fatal COVID-19 infection is driven by uncoordinated inflammatory responses that drive a hierarchy of T cell activation, elements of which can serve as prognostic indicators and potential targets for immune intervention.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/mortality , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antigens, CD/immunology , Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , B-Lymphocytes/immunology , Biomarkers/blood , Blood Proteins/metabolism , Cohort Studies , Critical Illness/mortality , Female , Humans , Immunophenotyping , Influenza, Human/immunology , Lectins, C-Type/immunology , Lymphocyte Activation , Male , Middle Aged , Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells/immunology , Patient Acuity
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