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1.
J Neurol ; 2022 Mar 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1750705

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In 2020, a wide range of hygiene measures was implemented to mitigate infections caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In consequence, pulmonary infections due to other respiratory pathogens also decreased. Here, we evaluated the number of bacterial and viral meningitis and encephalitis cases during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. METHODS: In a multicentre retrospective analysis of data from January 2016 until December 2020, numbers of patients diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and other types of CNS infections (such as viral meningitis and encephalitis) at 26 German hospitals were studied. Furthermore, the number of common meningitis-preceding ear-nose-throat infections (sinusitis, mastoiditis and otitis media) was evaluated. RESULTS: Compared to the previous years, the total number of patients diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis was reduced (n = 64 patients/year in 2020 vs. n = 87 to 120 patients/year between 2016 and 2019, all p < 0.05). Additionally, the total number of patients diagnosed with otolaryngological infections was significantly lower (n = 1181 patients/year in 2020 vs. n = 1525 to 1754 patients/year between 2016 and 2019, all p < 0.001). We also observed a decline in viral meningitis and especially enterovirus meningitis (n = 25 patients/year in 2020 vs. n = 97 to 181 patients/year between 2016 and 2019, all p < 0.001). DISCUSSION: This multicentre retrospective analysis demonstrates a decline in the number of patients treated for viral and pneumococcal meningitis as well as otolaryngological infections in 2020 compared to previous years. Since the latter often precedes pneumococcal meningitis, this may point to the significance of the direct spread of pneumococci from an otolaryngological focus such as mastoiditis to the brain as one important pathophysiological route in the development of pneumococcal meningitis.

2.
iScience ; 25(1): 103659, 2022 Jan 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1587464

ABSTRACT

Although some COVID-19 patients maintain SARS-CoV-2-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) for more than 6 months postinfection, others eventually lose IgG levels. We assessed the persistence of SARS-CoV-2-specific B cells in 17 patients, 5 of whom had lost specific IgGs after 5-8 months. Differentiation of blood-derived B cells in vitro revealed persistent SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG B cells in all patients, whereas IgA B cells were maintained in 11. Antibodies derived from cultured B cells blocked binding of viral receptor-binding domain (RBD) to the cellular receptor ACE-2, had neutralizing activity to authentic virus, and recognized the RBD of the variant of concern Alpha similarly to the wild type, whereas reactivity to Beta and Gamma were decreased. Thus, differentiation of memory B cells could be more sensitive for detecting previous infection than measuring serum antibodies. Understanding the persistence of SARS-CoV-2-specific B cells even in the absence of specific serum IgG will help to promote long-term immunity.

3.
Front Immunol ; 12: 784028, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581324

ABSTRACT

Background: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are mediators of cell-to-cell communication in inflammatory lung diseases. They function as carriers for miRNAs which regulate mRNA transcripts and signaling pathways after uptake into recipient cells. We investigated whether miRNAs associated with circulating EVs regulate immunologic processes in COVID-19. Methods: We prospectively studied 20 symptomatic patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, 20 mechanically ventilated patients with severe COVID-19 (severe acute respiratory corona virus-2 syndrome, ARDS) and 20 healthy controls. EVs were isolated by precipitation, total RNA was extracted, profiled by small RNA sequencing and evaluated by differential gene expression analysis (DGE). Differentially regulated miRNAs between groups were bioinformatically analyzed, mRNA target transcripts identified and signaling networks constructed, thereby comparing COVID-19 pneumonia to the healthy state and pneumonia to severe COVID-19 ARDS. Results: DGE revealed 43 significantly and differentially expressed miRNAs (25 downregulated) in COVID-19 pneumonia when compared to controls, and 20 miRNAs (15 downregulated) in COVID-19 ARDS patients in comparison to those with COVID-19 pneumonia. Network analysis for comparison of COVID-19 pneumonia to healthy controls showed upregulated miR-3168 (log2FC=2.28, padjusted<0.001), among others, targeting interleukin-6 (IL6) (25.1, 15.2 - 88.2 pg/ml in COVID-19 pneumonia) and OR52N2, an olfactory smell receptor in the nasal epithelium. In contrast, miR-3168 was significantly downregulated in COVID-19 ARDS (log2FC=-2.13, padjusted=0.003) and targeted interleukin-8 (CXCL8) in a completely activated network. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) was inhibited in COVID-19 pneumonia by miR-146a-5p and upregulated in ARDS by let-7e-5p. Conclusion: EV-derived miRNAs might have important regulative functions in the pathophysiology of COVID-19: CXCL8 regulates neutrophil recruitment into the lung causing epithelial damage whereas activated TLR4, to which SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds strongly, increases cell surface ACE2 expression and destroys type II alveolar cells that secrete pulmonary surfactants; both resulting in pulmonary-capillary leakage and ARDS. These miRNAs may serve as biomarkers or as possible therapeutic targets.


Subject(s)
Biomarkers/blood , COVID-19/immunology , Extracellular Vesicles/immunology , MicroRNAs/immunology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/pathology , Disease Progression , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pneumonia/immunology , Pneumonia/pathology , SARS-CoV-2 , Signal Transduction/immunology
4.
Clin Infect Dis ; 73(9): e3055-e3065, 2021 11 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1501051

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: High infection rates among healthcare personnel in an uncontained pandemic can paralyze health systems due to staff shortages. Risk constellations and rates of seroconversion for healthcare workers (HCWs) during the first wave of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic are still largely unclear. METHODS: Healthcare personnel (n = 300) on different organizational units in the LMU Munich University Hospital were included and followed in this prospective longitudinal study from 24 March until 7 July 2020. Participants were monitored in intervals of 2 to 6 weeks using different antibody assays for serological testing and questionnaires to evaluate risk contacts. In a subgroup of infected participants, we obtained nasopharyngeal swabs to perform whole-genome sequencing for outbreak characterization. RESULTS: HCWs involved in patient care on dedicated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) wards or on regular non-COVID-19 wards showed a higher rate of SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion than staff in the emergency department and non-frontline personnel. The landscape of risk contacts in these units was dynamic, with a decrease in unprotected risk contacts in the emergency department and an increase on non-COVID-19 wards. Both intensity and number of risk contacts were associated with higher rates of seroconversion. On regular wards, staff infections tended to occur in clusters, while infections on COVID-19 wards were less frequent and apparently independent of each other. CONCLUSIONS: Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for frontline HCWs was increased during the first pandemic wave in southern Germany. Stringent measures for infection control are essential to protect all patient-facing staff during the ongoing pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Germany/epidemiology , Health Personnel , Hospitals, University , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Pandemics , Prospective Studies
5.
Intensive Care Med Exp ; 9(1): 43, 2021 Sep 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1394469

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Progranulin is a widely expressed pleiotropic growth factor with a central regulatory effect during the early immune response in sepsis. Progranulin signaling has not been systematically studied and compared between sepsis, community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), COVID-19 pneumonia and a sterile systemic inflammatory response (SIRS). We delineated molecular networks of progranulin signaling by next-generation sequencing (NGS), determined progranulin plasma concentrations and quantified the diagnostic performance of progranulin to differentiate between the above-mentioned disorders using the established biomarkers procalcitonin (PCT), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) for comparison. METHODS: The diagnostic performance of progranulin was operationalized by calculating AUC and ROC statistics for progranulin and established biomarkers in 241 patients with sepsis, 182 patients with SIRS, 53 patients with CAP, 22 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia and 53 healthy volunteers. miRNAs and mRNAs in blood cells from sepsis patients (n = 7) were characterized by NGS and validated by RT-qPCR in an independent cohort (n = 39) to identify canonical gene networks associated with upregulated progranulin at sepsis onset. RESULTS: Plasma concentrations of progranulin (ELISA) in patients with sepsis were 57.5 (42.8-84.9, Q25-Q75) ng/ml and significantly higher than in CAP (38.0, 33.5-41.0 ng/ml, p < 0.001), SIRS (29.0, 25.0-35.0 ng/ml, p < 0.001) and the healthy state (28.7, 25.5-31.7 ng/ml, p < 0.001). Patients with COVID-19 had significantly higher progranulin concentrations than patients with CAP (67.6, 56.6-96.0 vs. 38.0, 33.5-41.0 ng/ml, p < 0.001). The diagnostic performance of progranulin for the differentiation between sepsis vs. SIRS (n = 423) was comparable to that of procalcitonin. AUC was 0.90 (95% CI = 0.87-0.93) for progranulin and 0.92 (CI = 0.88-0.96, p = 0.323) for procalcitonin. Progranulin showed high discriminative power to differentiate bacterial CAP from COVID-19 (sensitivity 0.91, specificity 0.94, AUC 0.91 (CI = 0.8-1.0) and performed significantly better than PCT, IL-6 and CRP. NGS and partial RT-qPCR confirmation revealed a transcriptomic network of immune cells with upregulated progranulin and sortilin transcripts as well as toll-like-receptor 4 and tumor-protein 53, regulated by miR-16 and others. CONCLUSIONS: Progranulin signaling is elevated during the early antimicrobial response in sepsis and differs significantly between sepsis, CAP, COVID-19 and SIRS. This suggests that progranulin may serve as a novel indicator for the differentiation between these disorders. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov registration number NCT03280576 Registered November 19, 2015.

6.
Infection ; 50(2): 381-394, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1351389

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: To determine risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in healthcare workers (HCWs), characterize symptoms, and evaluate preventive measures against SARS-CoV-2 spread in hospitals. METHODS: In a cross-sectional study conducted between May 27 and August 12, 2020, after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we obtained serological, epidemiological, occupational as well as COVID-19-related data at a quaternary care, multicenter hospital in Munich, Germany. RESULTS: 7554 HCWs participated, 2.2% of whom tested positive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Multivariate analysis revealed increased COVID-19 risk for nurses (3.1% seropositivity, 95% CI 2.5-3.9%, p = 0.012), staff working on COVID-19 units (4.6% seropositivity, 95% CI 3.2-6.5%, p = 0.032), males (2.4% seropositivity, 95% CI 1.8-3.2%, p = 0.019), and HCWs reporting high-risk exposures to infected patients (5.5% seropositivity, 95% CI 4.0-7.5%, p = 0.0022) or outside of work (12.0% seropositivity, 95% CI 8.0-17.4%, p < 0.0001). Smoking was a protective factor (1.1% seropositivity, 95% CI 0.7-1.8% p = 0.00018) and the symptom taste disorder was strongly associated with COVID-19 (29.8% seropositivity, 95% CI 24.3-35.8%, p < 0.0001). An unbiased decision tree identified subgroups with different risk profiles. Working from home as a preventive measure did not protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection. A PCR-testing strategy focused on symptoms and high-risk exposures detected all larger COVID-19 outbreaks. CONCLUSION: Awareness of the identified COVID-19 risk factors and successful surveillance strategies are key to protecting HCWs against SARS-CoV-2, especially in settings with limited vaccination capacities or reduced vaccine efficacy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Health Personnel , Humans , Male , Pandemics/prevention & control , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2
8.
Dtsch Med Wochenschr ; 146(3): 162-166, 2021 Feb.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1054084

ABSTRACT

Corticosteroids have been found as useful adjunctive therapy in patients with various infections and hyperinflammation-associated disease. They are recommended in practice guidelines for patients with tuberculous and pneumococcal meningitis and patients with immune reconstitution syndrome associated with antiretroviral therapy. A new indication is severe COVID-19. Evidence from clinical trials is insufficient to allow the routine use of steroids among patients with septic shock, community-acquired pneumonia or tuberculous pericarditis.


Subject(s)
Adrenal Cortex Hormones/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , HIV Infections/complications , Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome/drug therapy , Meningitis, Pneumococcal/drug therapy , Tuberculosis, Meningeal/drug therapy , Brain Abscess/drug therapy , Chemotherapy, Adjuvant , HIV Infections/drug therapy , Humans , Sepsis/drug therapy , Severity of Illness Index , Shock, Septic/drug therapy , Spirochaetales Infections/drug therapy , Tuberculosis/drug therapy
9.
J Cell Mol Med ; 24(20): 12054-12064, 2020 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-755303

ABSTRACT

Cell-free microRNAs (miRNAs) are transferred in disease state including inflammatory lung diseases and are often packed into extracellular vesicles (EVs). To assess their suitability as biomarkers for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and severe secondary complications such as sepsis, we studied patients with CAP (n = 30), sepsis (n = 65) and healthy volunteers (n = 47) subdivided into a training (n = 67) and a validation (n = 75) cohort. After precipitating crude EVs from sera, associated small RNA was profiled by next-generation sequencing (NGS) and evaluated in multivariate analyses. A subset of the thereby identified biomarker candidates was validated both technically and additionally by reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR). Differential gene expression (DGE) analysis revealed 29 differentially expressed miRNAs in CAP patients when compared to volunteers, and 25 miRNAs in patients with CAP, compared to those with sepsis. Sparse partial-least discriminant analysis separated groups based on 12 miRNAs. Three miRNAs proved as a significant biomarker signature. While expression levels of miR-1246 showed significant changes with an increase in overall disease severity from volunteers to CAP and to sepsis, miR-193a-5p and miR-542-3p differentiated patients with an infectious disease (CAP or sepsis) from volunteers. Cell-free miRNAs are potentially novel biomarkers for CAP and may help to identify patients at risk for progress to sepsis, facilitating early intervention and treatment.


Subject(s)
Circulating MicroRNA/blood , Community-Acquired Infections/diagnosis , Community-Acquired Infections/genetics , Pneumonia/diagnosis , Pneumonia/genetics , Sepsis/blood , Sepsis/complications , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Circulating MicroRNA/genetics , Community-Acquired Infections/blood , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Immunity, Humoral/genetics , Middle Aged , Multivariate Analysis , Pneumonia/blood , Pneumonia/complications , Reproducibility of Results , Reverse Transcription/genetics , Sepsis/genetics
10.
Dtsch Arztebl Int ; 117(33-34): 545-552, 2020 08 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-846177

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In this study, we investigate the number of emergency room consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 in Germany compared to figures from the previous year. METHODS: Case numbers from calendar weeks 1 through 22 of the two consecutive years 2019 and 2020 were obtained from 29 university hospitals and 7 non-university hospitals in Germany. Information was also obtained on the patients' age, sex, and urgency, along with the type of case (outpatient/inpatient), admitting ward, and a small number of tracer diagnoses (I21, myocardial infarction; J44, COPD; and I61, I63, I64, G45, stroke /TIA), as well as on the number of COVID-19 cases and of tests performed for SARS-CoV-2, as a measure of the number of cases in which COVID-19 was suspected or at least included in the differential diagnoses. RESULTS: A total of 1 022 007 emergency room consultations were analyzed, of which 546 940 took place in 2019 and 475 067 in 2020. The number of consultations with a positive test for the COVID-19 pathogen was 3122. The total number of emergency room consultations in the observation period was 13% lower in 2020 than in 2019, with a maximum drop by 38% coinciding with the highest number of COVID-19 cases (calendar week 14; 572 cases). After the initiation of interpersonal contact restrictions in 2020, there was a marked drop in COVID-19 case numbers, by a mean of -240 cases per week per emergency room (95% confidence interval [-284; -128]). There was a rise in case numbers thereafter, by a mean of 17 patients per week [14; 19], and the number of cases of myocardial infarction returned fully to the level seen in 2019. CONCLUSION: In Germany, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant drop in medical emergencies of all kinds presenting to the nation's emergency departments. A recovery effect began to be seen as early as calendar week 15, but the levels seen in 2019 were not yet reached overall by calendar week 22; only the prevalence of myocardial infarction had renormalized by then. The reasons for this require further investigation.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Emergencies/epidemiology , Emergency Service, Hospital/statistics & numerical data , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , COVID-19 , Germany/epidemiology , Humans
11.
Nervenarzt ; 92(7): 701-707, 2021 Jul.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-833945

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Since the beginning of the outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increased demand for psychosocial support for patients, their family members, and healthcare workers. Concurrently, possibilities to provide this support have been hindered. Quarantine, social isolation, and SARS-CoV­2 infections represent new and severe stressors that have to be addressed with innovative psychosocial care. OBJECTIVE AND METHOD: This article describes the COVID-19 psychosocial first aid concept at the University Hospital Munich (LMU Klinikum) developed by an interdisciplinary team of psychiatric, psychological, spiritual care, psycho-oncological, and palliative care specialists. RESULTS: A new psychosocial first aid model has been implemented for COVID-19 inpatients, family members, and hospital staff consisting of five elements. CONCLUSION: The concept integrates innovative and sustainable ideas, e.g. telemedicine-based approaches and highlights the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration to cope with challenges in the healthcare system.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Psychiatric Rehabilitation , Hospitals , Humans , Pandemics , Psychosocial Support Systems , SARS-CoV-2
12.
J Allergy Clin Immunol ; 146(1): 128-136.e4, 2020 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-526034

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can manifest as a viral-induced hyperinflammation with multiorgan involvement. Such patients often experience rapid deterioration and need for mechanical ventilation. Currently, no prospectively validated biomarker of impending respiratory failure is available. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to identify and prospectively validate biomarkers that allow the identification of patients in need of impending mechanical ventilation. METHODS: Patients with COVID-19 who were hospitalized from February 29 to April 9, 2020, were analyzed for baseline clinical and laboratory findings at admission and during the disease. Data from 89 evaluable patients were available for the purpose of analysis comprising an initial evaluation cohort (n = 40) followed by a temporally separated validation cohort (n = 49). RESULTS: We identified markers of inflammation, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatinine as the variables most predictive of respiratory failure in the evaluation cohort. Maximal IL-6 level before intubation showed the strongest association with the need for mechanical ventilation, followed by maximal CRP level. The respective AUC values for IL-6 and CRP levels in the evaluation cohort were 0.97 and 0.86, and they were similar in the validation cohort (0.90 and 0.83, respectively). The calculated optimal cutoff values during the course of disease from the evaluation cohort (IL-6 level > 80 pg/mL and CRP level > 97 mg/L) both correctly classified 80% of patients in the validation cohort regarding their risk of respiratory failure. CONCLUSION: The maximal level of IL-6, followed by CRP level, was highly predictive of the need for mechanical ventilation. This suggests the possibility of using IL-6 or CRP level to guide escalation of treatment in patients with COVID-19-related hyperinflammatory syndrome.


Subject(s)
Biomarkers/blood , C-Reactive Protein/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/blood , Interleukin-6/blood , Pneumonia, Viral/blood , Respiration, Artificial , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Betacoronavirus , C-Reactive Protein/analysis , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Respiratory Insufficiency/blood , Respiratory Insufficiency/therapy , Respiratory Insufficiency/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Young Adult
13.
Visc Med ; 36(5): 417-420, 2020 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-619841

ABSTRACT

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the triage, assessment, and management of patients presenting to the emergency department with critical conditions has become -challenging. The clinical features of COVID-19 are heterogeneous and subtle in many cases. They may easily be overlooked in the case of other acute diseases. Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in patients with COVID-19 as SARS-CoV-2 is able to enter gastrointestinal epithelial cells. However, these complaints can also be caused by a COVID-19-independent concomitant abdominal pathology. Therefore, patients with acute abdominal pain and fever need to be assessed very thoroughly. Based on a clinical case, we present our approach of managing emergency patients with acute abdomen and concomitant suspicion of -COVID-19.

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