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Ann N Y Acad Sci ; 1513(1): 5-9, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1752639


Government restrictions to the movement of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic have had a wide range of effects on scientific activity. Here, we show that during the pandemic there has been a reduction in the number of registered non-COVID-19 clinical trials. Furthermore, using the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker Stringency Index (SI) as an indicator of COVID-19-related workplace adjustment (e.g., restrictions on gatherings, workplace closures, and stay-at-home orders), we demonstrate that this drop in clinical trial registration has been greater in countries with a higher SI. This could have significant consequences for the discovery of treatments that are required to reduce the global burden of disease.

COVID-19 , Clinical Trials as Topic , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Workplace
Cell Res ; 31(12): 1244-1262, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1493090


The infusion of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) potentially improves clinical symptoms, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We conducted a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled (29 patients/group) phase II clinical trial to validate previous findings and explore the potential mechanisms. Patients treated with umbilical cord-derived MSCs exhibited a shorter hospital stay (P = 0.0198) and less time required for symptoms remission (P = 0.0194) than those who received placebo. Based on chest images, both severe and critical patients treated with MSCs showed improvement by day 7 (P = 0.0099) and day 21 (P = 0.0084). MSC-treated patients had fewer adverse events. MSC infusion reduced the levels of C-reactive protein, proinflammatory cytokines, and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and promoted the maintenance of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies. To explore how MSCs modulate the immune system, we employed single-cell RNA sequencing analysis on peripheral blood. Our analysis identified a novel subpopulation of VNN2+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor-like (HSPC-like) cells expressing CSF3R and PTPRE that were mobilized following MSC infusion. Genes encoding chemotaxis factors - CX3CR1 and L-selectin - were upregulated in various immune cells. MSC treatment also regulated B cell subsets and increased the expression of costimulatory CD28 in T cells in vivo and in vitro. In addition, an in vivo mouse study confirmed that MSCs suppressed NET release and reduced venous thrombosis by upregulating kindlin-3 signaling. Together, our results underscore the role of MSCs in improving COVID-19 patient outcomes via maintenance of immune homeostasis.

COVID-19/therapy , Immunomodulation , Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation , Aged , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/blood , B-Lymphocyte Subsets/cytology , B-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology , B-Lymphocyte Subsets/metabolism , C-Reactive Protein/analysis , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cytokines/genetics , Cytokines/metabolism , Cytoskeletal Proteins/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Extracellular Traps/metabolism , Female , Humans , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/cytology , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/metabolism , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , T-Lymphocytes/cytology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , Venous Thrombosis/metabolism , Venous Thrombosis/pathology
Aging Dis ; 11(2): 216-228, 2020 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1102674


A coronavirus (HCoV-19) has caused the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, China. Preventing and reversing the cytokine storm may be the key to save the patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to possess a comprehensive powerful immunomodulatory function. This study aims to investigate whether MSC transplantation improves the outcome of 7 enrolled patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Beijing YouAn Hospital, China, from Jan 23, 2020 to Feb 16, 2020. The clinical outcomes, as well as changes of inflammatory and immune function levels and adverse effects of 7 enrolled patients were assessed for 14 days after MSC injection. MSCs could cure or significantly improve the functional outcomes of seven patients without observed adverse effects. The pulmonary function and symptoms of these seven patients were significantly improved in 2 days after MSC transplantation. Among them, two common and one severe patient were recovered and discharged in 10 days after treatment. After treatment, the peripheral lymphocytes were increased, the C-reactive protein decreased, and the overactivated cytokine-secreting immune cells CXCR3+CD4+ T cells, CXCR3+CD8+ T cells, and CXCR3+ NK cells disappeared in 3-6 days. In addition, a group of CD14+CD11c+CD11bmid regulatory DC cell population dramatically increased. Meanwhile, the level of TNF-α was significantly decreased, while IL-10 increased in MSC treatment group compared to the placebo control group. Furthermore, the gene expression profile showed MSCs were ACE2- and TMPRSS2- which indicated MSCs are free from COVID-19 infection. Thus, the intravenous transplantation of MSCs was safe and effective for treatment in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, especially for the patients in critically severe condition.