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1.
J Clin Med ; 11(7)2022 Apr 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1776265

ABSTRACT

Patients with severe COVID-19 belong to a population at high risk of invasive fungal infections (IFIs), with a reported incidence of IFIs in critically ill COVID-19 patients ranging between 5% and 26.7%. Common factors in these patients, such as multiple organ failure, immunomodulating/immunocompromising treatments, the longer time on mechanical ventilation, renal replacement therapy or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, make them vulnerable candidates for fungal infections. In addition to that, SARS-CoV2 itself is associated with significant dysfunction in the patient's immune system involving both innate and acquired immunity, with reduction in both CD4+ T and CD8+ T lymphocyte counts and cytokine storm. The emerging question is whether SARS-CoV-2 inherently predisposes critically ill patients to fungal infections or the immunosuppressive therapy constitutes the igniting factor for invasive mycoses. To approach the dilemma, one must consider the unique pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 with the deranged immune response it provokes, review the well-known effects of immunosuppressants and finally refer to current literature to probe possible causal relationships, synergistic effects or independent risk factors. In this review, we aimed to identify the prevalence, risk factors and mortality associated with IFIs in mechanically ventilated patients with COVID-19.

2.
J Clin Med ; 11(6)2022 Mar 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1760683

ABSTRACT

During the current pandemic, we witnessed a rise of post-intubation tracheal stenosis (PITS) in patients intubated due to COVID-19. We prospectively analyzed data from patients referred to our institution during the last 18 months for severe symptomatic post-intubation upper airway complications. Interdisciplinary bronchoscopic and/or surgical management was offered. Twenty-three patients with PITS and/or tracheoesophageal fistulae were included. They had undergone 31.85 (±22.7) days of ICU hospitalization and 17.35 (±7.4) days of intubation. Tracheal stenoses were mostly complex, located in the subglottic or mid-tracheal area. A total of 83% of patients had fracture and distortion of the tracheal wall. Fifteen patients were initially treated with rigid bronchoscopic modalities and/or stent placement and eight patients with tracheal resection-anastomosis. Post-treatment relapse in two of the bronchoscopically treated patients required surgery, while two of the surgically treated patients required rigid bronchoscopy and stent placement. Transient, non-life-threatening post-treatment complications developed in 60% of patients and were all managed successfully. The histopathology of the resected tracheal specimens didn't reveal specific alterations in comparison to pre-COVID-era PITS cases. Prolonged intubation, pronation maneuvers, oversized tubes or cuffs, and patient- or disease-specific factors may be pathogenically implicated. An increase of post-COVID PITS is anticipated. Careful prevention, early detection and effective management of these iatrogenic complications are warranted.

3.
In Vivo ; 36(2): 954-960, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1732570

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND/AIM: Multiple reports from all over the world link COVID-19 with endothelial/coagulation disorders as well as a dysregulated immune response. This study tested the hypothesis that immunostimulation will be greater in COVID-19 patients than in patients with H1N1 infection or bacterial sepsis. Also, whether an increase in immune stimulation will be accompanied by a more severely affected endothelium/coagulation system was examined. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Twenty-three septic patients, admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), were enrolled (9 with SARS-CoV-2, 5 with H1N1 pneumonia, 9 with bacterial sepsis). Myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity along with certain endothelial/coagulation factors were assessed on admission (time point 1) and at either improvement or deterioration (time point 2). RESULTS: MPO levels were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients compared to both other groups. Furthermore, in patients with COVID-19, vWF levels did not differ significantly, fVIII levels were lower while ADAMTS-13 activity was higher compared to patients with H1N1 pneumonia and bacterial sepsis (a trend in the latter). CONCLUSION: Increased immunostimulation was noted in COVID-19 patients compared to other septic patients; however, this was not accompanied by greater disturbance of the clotting system and/or more severe endothelial injury.


Subject(s)
Blood Coagulation Disorders , COVID-19 , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype , Sepsis , Blood Coagulation Disorders/etiology , COVID-19/complications , Humans , Immunization , SARS-CoV-2 , Sepsis/complications
4.
Diagnostics (Basel) ; 12(1)2021 Dec 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1580950

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Although several studies have been launched towards the prediction of risk factors for mortality and admission in the intensive care unit (ICU) in COVID-19, none of them focuses on the development of explainable AI models to define an ICU scoring index using dynamically associated biological markers. METHODS: We propose a multimodal approach which combines explainable AI models with dynamic modeling methods to shed light into the clinical features of COVID-19. Dynamic Bayesian networks were used to seek associations among cytokines across four time intervals after hospitalization. Explainable gradient boosting trees were trained to predict the risk for ICU admission and mortality towards the development of an ICU scoring index. RESULTS: Our results highlight LDH, IL-6, IL-8, Cr, number of monocytes, lymphocyte count, TNF as risk predictors for ICU admission and survival along with LDH, age, CRP, Cr, WBC, lymphocyte count for mortality in the ICU, with prediction accuracy 0.79 and 0.81, respectively. These risk factors were combined with dynamically associated biological markers to develop an ICU scoring index with accuracy 0.9. CONCLUSIONS: to our knowledge, this is the first multimodal and explainable AI model which quantifies the risk of intensive care with accuracy up to 0.9 across multiple timepoints.

5.
Chemosensors ; 9(12):341, 2021.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1554916

ABSTRACT

Antigen screening for the SARS-CoV-2 S1 spike protein is among the most promising tools for the mass monitoring of asymptomatic carriers of the virus, especially in limited resource environments. Herewith, we report on the possible use of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the natural receptor and entry point of the virus, as a biorecognition element for the detection of the S1 antigen combined with an established bioelectric biosensor based on membrane-engineered cells. The working principle of our approach is based on the measurable change of the electric potential of membrane-engineered mammalian cells bearing ACE2 after attachment of the respective viral protein. We demonstrate that sensitive and selective detection of the S1 antigen is feasible in just three min, with a limit of detection of 20 fg/mL. In a preliminary clinical application, positive patient-derived samples were identified with a 87.9% score compared to RT-PCR. No cross-reactivity was observed against a wide range of nucleocapsid protein concentrations. The novel biosensor is embedded in a commercially ready-to-use testing platform, complete with the consumable immobilized cell–electrode interface and a portable read-out device operable through smartphone or tablet. In addition, the possible application of the system for the high throughput screening of potential pharmacological inhibitors of the ACE2 receptor-S1 RBD interaction is discussed.

6.
J Innate Immun ; : 1-11, 2021 Dec 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546612

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Macrophage activation-like syndrome (MALS) and complex immune dysregulation (CID) often underlie acute respiratory distress (ARDS) in COVID-19. We aimed to investigate the effect of personalized immunotherapy on clinical improvement of critical COVID-19. METHODS: In this open-label prospective trial, 102 patients with ARDS by SARS-CoV-2 were screened for MALS (ferritin >4,420 ng/mL) and CID (ferritin ≤4,420 ng/mL and low human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR expression on CD14-monocytes). Patients with MALS or CID with increased aminotransferases received intravenous anakinra; those with CID and normal aminotransferases received tocilizumab. The primary outcome was ≥25% decrease in the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score and/or 50% increase in the respiratory ratio by day 8; 28-day mortality, change of SOFA score by day 28, serum biomarkers, and cytokine production by mononuclear cells were secondary endpoints. RESULTS: The primary study endpoint was met in 58.3% of anakinra-treated patients and in 33.3% of tocilizumab-treated patients (p: 0.01). Most patients in both groups received dexamethasone as standard of care. No differences were found in secondary outcomes, mortality, and SOFA score changes. Ferritin decreased among anakinra-treated patients; interleukin-6, soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor, and HLA-DR expression increased among tocilizumab-treated patients. Survivors by day 28 who received anakinra were distributed to lower severity levels of the WHO clinical progression scale. Greater incidence of secondary infections was found with tocilizumab treatment. CONCLUSION: Immune assessment resulted in favorable anakinra responses among critically ill patients with COVID-19 and features of MALS.

7.
J Pers Med ; 11(11)2021 Oct 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1488659

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 disease can cause hypoxemic respiratory failure due to ARDS, requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Although early studies reported that COVID-19-associated ARDS has distinctive features from ARDS of other causes, recent observational studies have demonstrated that ARDS related to COVID-19 shares common clinical characteristics and respiratory system mechanics with ARDS of other origins. Therefore, mechanical ventilation in these patients should be based on strategies aiming to mitigate ventilator-induced lung injury. Assisted mechanical ventilation should be applied early in the course of mechanical ventilation by considering evaluation and minimizing factors associated with patient-inflicted lung injury. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation should be considered in selected patients with refractory hypoxia not responding to conventional ventilation strategies. This review highlights the current and evolving practice in managing mechanically ventilated patients with ARDS related to COVID-19.

8.
Biosensors (Basel) ; 11(7)2021 Jul 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1302155

ABSTRACT

The availability of antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 represents a major step for the mass surveillance of the incidence of infection, especially regarding COVID-19 asymptomatic and/or early-stage patients. Recently, we reported the development of a Bioelectric Recognition Assay-based biosensor able to detect the SARS-CoV-2 S1 spike protein expressed on the surface of the virus in just three minutes, with high sensitivity and selectivity. The working principle was established by measuring the change of the electric potential of membrane-engineered mammalian cells bearing the human chimeric spike S1 antibody after attachment of the respective viral protein. In the present study, we applied the novel biosensor to patient-derived nasopharyngeal samples in a clinical set-up, with absolutely no sample pretreatment. More importantly, membrane-engineered cells were pre-immobilized in a proprietary biomatrix, thus enabling their long-term preservation prior to use as well as significantly increasing their ease-of-handle as test consumables. The plug-and-apply novel biosensor was able to detect the virus in positive samples with a 92.8% success rate compared to RT-PCR. No false negative results were recorded. These findings demonstrate the potential applicability of the biosensor for the early, routine mass screening of SARS-CoV-2 on a scale not yet realized.


Subject(s)
Biosensing Techniques/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/analysis , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Cell Line , Early Diagnosis , Humans , Limit of Detection , Nasopharynx/immunology , Nasopharynx/virology , Population Surveillance , SARS-CoV-2/immunology
9.
J Pers Med ; 11(6)2021 Jun 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1270071

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has rapidly spread globally, becoming a huge public health challenge. Even though the vast majority of patients are asymptomatic, some patients present with pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), septic shock, and death. It has been shown in several studies that the severity and clinical outcomes are related to dysregulated antiviral immunity and enhanced and persistent systemic inflammation. Corticosteroids have been used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, as they are reported to elicit benefits by reducing lung inflammation and inflammation-induced lung injury. Dexamethasone has gained a major role in the therapeutic algorithm of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia requiring supplemental oxygen or on mechanical ventilation. Its wide anti-inflammatory action seems to form the basis for its beneficial action, taming the overwhelming "cytokine storm". Amid a plethora of scientific research on therapeutic options for COVID-19, there are still unanswered questions about the right timing, right dosing, and right duration of the corticosteroid treatment. The aim of this review article was to summarize the data on the dexamethasone treatment in COVID-19 and outline the clinical considerations of corticosteroid therapy in these patients.

10.
Case Rep Crit Care ; 2021: 6644853, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1175216

ABSTRACT

We describe a critically ill, SARS-CoV-2 positive patient with respiratory failure and thrombotic/livedoid skin lesions, appearing during the course of the disease. The biopsy of the lesions revealed an occlusive, pauci-inflammatory vasculopathy of the cutaneous small vessels characterized by complement and fibrinogen deposition on vascular walls, pointing to a thrombotic vasculopathy. Transmission electron microscopy of the affected skin failed to reveal any viral inclusions. Clinical evaluation and laboratory findings ruled out systemic coagulopathies and disseminated intravascular coagulation, drug-induced skin reaction, and common viral rashes. Our hypothesis is that the, herein evidenced, microvascular occlusive injury might constitute a significant pathologic mechanism in COVID-19, being a common denominator between cutaneous and pulmonary manifestations.

12.
Nat Immunol ; 22(1): 32-40, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065907

ABSTRACT

A central paradigm of immunity is that interferon (IFN)-mediated antiviral responses precede pro-inflammatory ones, optimizing host protection and minimizing collateral damage1,2. Here, we report that for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) this paradigm does not apply. By investigating temporal IFN and inflammatory cytokine patterns in 32 moderate-to-severe patients with COVID-19 hospitalized for pneumonia and longitudinally followed for the development of respiratory failure and death, we reveal that IFN-λ and type I IFN production were both diminished and delayed, induced only in a fraction of patients as they became critically ill. On the contrary, pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 were produced before IFNs in all patients and persisted for a prolonged time. This condition was reflected in blood transcriptomes wherein prominent IFN signatures were only seen in critically ill patients who also exhibited augmented inflammation. By comparison, in 16 patients with influenza (flu) hospitalized for pneumonia with similar clinicopathological characteristics to those of COVID-19 and 24 nonhospitalized patients with flu with milder symptoms, IFN-λ and type I IFN were robustly induced earlier, at higher levels and independently of disease severity, whereas pro-inflammatory cytokines were only acutely produced. Notably, higher IFN-λ concentrations in patients with COVID-19 correlated with lower viral load in bronchial aspirates and faster viral clearance and a higher IFN-λ to type I IFN ratio correlated with improved outcome for critically ill patients. Moreover, altered cytokine patterns in patients with COVID-19 correlated with longer hospitalization and higher incidence of critical disease and mortality compared to flu. These data point to an untuned antiviral response in COVID-19, contributing to persistent viral presence, hyperinflammation and respiratory failure.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Immunity/immunology , Influenza, Human/immunology , Interferon Type I/immunology , Interferons/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Antiviral Agents/immunology , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Cytokines/genetics , Cytokines/immunology , Disease Progression , Gene Expression/genetics , Gene Expression/immunology , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Humans , Immunity/genetics , Inflammation/genetics , Inflammation/immunology , Influenza, Human/genetics , Interferon Type I/genetics , Interferons/genetics , Length of Stay , Prognosis , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Viral Load/genetics , Viral Load/immunology
13.
Cell Host Microbe ; 27(6): 992-1000.e3, 2020 06 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-735030

ABSTRACT

Proper management of COVID-19 mandates better understanding of disease pathogenesis. The sudden clinical deterioration 7-8 days after initial symptom onset suggests that severe respiratory failure (SRF) in COVID-19 is driven by a unique pattern of immune dysfunction. We studied immune responses of 54 COVID-19 patients, 28 of whom had SRF. All patients with SRF displayed either macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) or very low human leukocyte antigen D related (HLA-DR) expression accompanied by profound depletion of CD4 lymphocytes, CD19 lymphocytes, and natural killer (NK) cells. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) production by circulating monocytes was sustained, a pattern distinct from bacterial sepsis or influenza. SARS-CoV-2 patient plasma inhibited HLA-DR expression, and this was partially restored by the IL-6 blocker Tocilizumab; off-label Tocilizumab treatment of patients was accompanied by increase in circulating lymphocytes. Thus, the unique pattern of immune dysregulation in severe COVID-19 is characterized by IL-6-mediated low HLA-DR expression and lymphopenia, associated with sustained cytokine production and hyper-inflammation.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Respiratory Insufficiency/immunology , Aged , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/administration & dosage , COVID-19 , Female , HLA-DR Antigens/immunology , Humans , Inflammation/pathology , Interleukin-6/immunology , Killer Cells, Natural/pathology , Lymphopenia/pathology , Macrophage Activation , Male , Monocytes/pathology , Pandemics
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