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Nature ; 599(7884): 283-289, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1404888


Derailed cytokine and immune cell networks account for the organ damage and the clinical severity of COVID-19 (refs. 1-4). Here we show that SARS-CoV-2, like other viruses, evokes cellular senescence as a primary stress response in infected cells. Virus-induced senescence (VIS) is indistinguishable from other forms of cellular senescence and is accompanied by a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which comprises pro-inflammatory cytokines, extracellular-matrix-active factors and pro-coagulatory mediators5-7. Patients with COVID-19 displayed markers of senescence in their airway mucosa in situ and increased serum levels of SASP factors. In vitro assays demonstrated macrophage activation with SASP-reminiscent secretion, complement lysis and SASP-amplifying secondary senescence of endothelial cells, which mirrored hallmark features of COVID-19 such as macrophage and neutrophil infiltration, endothelial damage and widespread thrombosis in affected lung tissue1,8,9. Moreover, supernatant from VIS cells, including SARS-CoV-2-induced senescence, induced neutrophil extracellular trap formation and activation of platelets and the clotting cascade. Senolytics such as navitoclax and a combination of dasatinib plus quercetin selectively eliminated VIS cells, mitigated COVID-19-reminiscent lung disease and reduced inflammation in SARS-CoV-2-infected hamsters and mice. Our findings mark VIS as a pathogenic trigger of COVID-19-related cytokine escalation and organ damage, and suggest that senolytic targeting of virus-infected cells is a treatment option against SARS-CoV-2 and perhaps other viral infections.

COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Cellular Senescence/drug effects , Molecular Targeted Therapy , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Aniline Compounds/pharmacology , Aniline Compounds/therapeutic use , Animals , COVID-19/complications , Cell Line , Cricetinae , Dasatinib/pharmacology , Dasatinib/therapeutic use , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Humans , Male , Mice , Quercetin/pharmacology , Quercetin/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Sulfonamides/pharmacology , Sulfonamides/therapeutic use , Thrombosis/complications , Thrombosis/immunology , Thrombosis/metabolism
Diagnostics (Basel) ; 11(5)2021 05 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1234679


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has shown the importance of postmortem investigation of deceased patients. For a correct interpretation of the pulmonary findings in this new era, it is, however, crucial to be familiar with pathologic pulmonary conditions observed in postmortem investigations in general. Adequate postmortem histopathological evaluation of the lungs may be affected by suboptimal gross work up, autolysis or poor fixation. Using a standardized preparation approach which consisted in instillation of 4% buffered formaldehyde through the large bronchi for proper fixation and preparing large frontal tissue sections of 1-2 cm thickness after at least 24 h fixation, we comprehensively analyzed postmortem pulmonary findings from consecutive adult autopsies of a two-year period before the occurrence of COVID-19 (2016-2017). In total, significant pathological findings were observed in 97/189 patients (51%), with 28 patients showing more than one pathologic condition. Acute pneumonia was diagnosed 33/128 times (26%), embolism 24 times (19%), primary pulmonary neoplasms 18 times (14%), organizing pneumonia and other fibrosing conditions 14 times (11%), pulmonary metastases 13 times (10%), diffuse alveolar damage 12 times (9%), severe emphysema 9 times (7%) and other pathologies, e.g., amyloidosis 5/128 times (4%). Pulmonary/cardiopulmonary disease was the cause of death in 60 patients (32%). Clinical and pathological diagnoses regarding lung findings correlated completely in 75 patients (40%). Autopsy led to confirmation of a clinically suspected pulmonary diagnosis in 57 patients (39%) and clarification of an unclear clinical lung finding in 16 patients (8%). Major discrepant findings regarding the lungs (N = 31; 16%) comprised cases with clinical suspicions that could not be confirmed or new findings not diagnosed intra vitam. A significant proportion of acute pneumonias (N = 8; 24% of all cases with this diagnosis; p = 0.011) was not diagnosed clinically. We confirmed the frequent occurrence of pulmonary pathologies in autopsies, including inflammatory and neoplastic lesions as the most frequent pathological findings. Acute pneumonia was an important cause for discrepancy between clinical and postmortem diagnostics.

Cardiovasc Pathol ; 49: 107263, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-650406


Since its recognition in December 2019, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 has rapidly spread globally causing a pandemic that represents the greatest medical challenge in decades. The aim of the study was to evaluate the spectrum of cardiopulmonary pathology of COVID-19 based on (non-minimal invasive) autopsies performed on 14 COVID-19 decedents. Bilateral diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) was found in all patients. Superimposed acute bronchopneumonia was present in 11 of 14 (78.6%) patients and was considered the major cause of death in 2 patients. A key finding was the presence of thrombotic/thromboembolic vascular occlusions. We classified 5 types of pulmonary thrombi: 1. capillary microthrombi (11/14, 78.6%); 2. partially organized thrombi in mid-sized pulmonary arteries with complete vessel occlusion; 3. non-organized thrombi in mid-sized pulmonary arteries that did not completely fill out the vessel lumen and probably represented thromboemboli rather than thrombosis; 4. bone marrow emboli (1/14, 7.1%); and 5. septic pulmonary thromboemboli (1/14, 7.1%). Pulmonary thrombi in mid-sized arteries were noted in 5 of 14 (35.7%) patients, causing pulmonary infarction and/or pulmonary hemorrhage. All patients had evidence of chronic cardiac disease, including myocardial hypertrophy (13/14, 92.9%), mild to marked coronary artery atherosclerosis (14/14, 100%) and focal myocardial fibrosis (3/14, 21.4%). Acute myocardial infarction was found as concurrent cause of death in 3 (21.4%) patients, and significant cardiac hypertrophy (heart weight 750 g) was present in 1 (7.1%) patient with ATTR-positive cardiac amyloidosis. The autopsy findings confirm that COVID-19 is a systemic disease, with major involvement of the lungs, that increases the risk of cardiac and vascular complications including acute myocardial injury and thrombotic/thromboembolic events. Secondary acute bronchopneumonia is a common complication in patients with COVID-19 and may be the major cause of death.

Bronchopneumonia/pathology , Coronavirus Infections/complications , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/complications , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Pulmonary Artery/pathology , Thrombosis/pathology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Autopsy , Betacoronavirus , Bronchopneumonia/virology , COVID-19 , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pulmonary Embolism/pathology , Pulmonary Embolism/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Thrombosis/virology