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Clin Infect Dis ; 73(11): e4154-e4165, 2021 12 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1559099


BACKGROUND: Children and older adults with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) display a distinct spectrum of disease severity yet the risk factors aren't well understood. We sought to examine the expression pattern of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the cell-entry receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and the role of lung progenitor cells in children and older patients. METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed clinical features in a cohort of 299 patients with COVID-19. The expression and distribution of ACE2 and lung progenitor cells were systematically examined using a combination of public single-cell RNA-seq data sets, lung biopsies, and ex vivo infection of lung tissues with SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus in children and older adults. We also followed up patients who had recovered from COVID-19. RESULTS: Compared with children, older patients (>50 years.) were more likely to develop into serious pneumonia with reduced lymphocytes and aberrant inflammatory response (P = .001). The expression level of ACE2 and lung progenitor cell markers were generally decreased in older patients. Notably, ACE2 positive cells were mainly distributed in the alveolar region, including SFTPC positive cells, but rarely in airway regions in the older adults (P < .01). The follow-up of discharged patients revealed a prolonged recovery from pneumonia in the older (P < .025). CONCLUSIONS: Compared to children, ACE2 positive cells are generally decreased in older adults and mainly presented in the lower pulmonary tract. The lung progenitor cells are also decreased. These risk factors may impact disease severity and recovery from pneumonia caused by SARS-Cov-2 infection in older patients.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19 , Stem Cells , Aged , Child , Humans , Lung/cytology , Middle Aged , RNA-Seq , Retrospective Studies , Severity of Illness Index
Theranostics ; 11(5): 2170-2181, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1016389


Introduction: An increasing number of children with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is being reported, yet the spectrum of disease severity and expression patterns of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in children at different developmental stages are largely unknow. Methods: We analysed clinical features in a cohort of 173 children with COVID-19 (0-15 yrs.-old) between January 22, 2020 and March 15, 2020. We systematically examined the expression and distribution of ACE2 in different developmental stages of children by using a combination of children's lung biopsies, pluripotent stem cell-derived lung cells, RNA-sequencing profiles, and ex vivo SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviral infections. Results: It revealed that infants (< 1yrs.-old), with a weaker potency of immune response, are more vulnerable to develop pneumonia whereas older children (> 1 yrs.-old) are more resistant to lung injury. The expression levels of ACE2 however do not vary by age in children's lung. ACE2 is notably expressed not only in Alveolar Type II (AT II) cells, but also in SOX9 positive lung progenitor cells detected in both pluripotent stem cell derivatives and infants' lungs. The ACE2+SOX9+ cells are readily infected by SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus and the numbers of the double positive cells are significantly decreased in older children. Conclusions: Infants (< 1 yrs.-old) with SARS-CoV-2 infection are more vulnerable to lung injuries. ACE2 expression in multiple types of lung cells including SOX9 positive progenitor cells, in cooperation with an unestablished immune system, could be risk factors contributing to vulnerability of infants with COVID-19. There is a need to continue monitoring lung development in young children who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Lung/cytology , Stem Cells/metabolism , Adolescent , Biopsy , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Humans , Immune System , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Lung/virology , Male , RNA-Seq , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , SOX9 Transcription Factor/metabolism , Single-Cell Analysis , Stem Cells/virology
Res Sq ; 2020 Aug 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-729814


Dysfunctional immune responses contribute critically to the progression of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) from mild to severe stages including fatality, with pro-inflammatory macrophages as one of the main mediators of lung hyper-inflammation. Therefore, there is an urgent need to better understand the interactions among SARS-CoV-2 permissive cells, macrophage, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thereby offering important insights into new therapeutic strategies. Here, we used directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to establish a lung and macrophage co-culture system and model the host-pathogen interaction and immune response caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among the hPSC-derived lung cells, alveolar type II and ciliated cells are the major cell populations expressing the viral receptor ACE2 and co-effector TMPRSS2, and both were highly permissive to viral infection. We found that alternatively polarized macrophages (M2) and classically polarized macrophages (M1) had similar inhibitory effects on SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, only M1 macrophages significantly up-regulated inflammatory factors including IL-6 and IL-18, inhibiting growth and enhancing apoptosis of lung cells. Inhibiting viral entry into target cells using an ACE2 blocking antibody enhanced the activity of M2 macrophages, resulting in nearly complete clearance of virus and protection of lung cells. These results suggest a potential therapeutic strategy, in that by blocking viral entrance to target cells while boosting anti-inflammatory action of macrophages at an early stage of infection, M2 macrophages can eliminate SARS-CoV-2, while sparing lung cells and suppressing the dysfunctional hyper-inflammatory response mediated by M1 macrophages.