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Front Immunol ; 13: 968991, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2022753


Background: SARS-CoV-2 induces a spectrum of clinical conditions ranging from asymptomatic infection to life threatening severe disease. Host microRNAs have been involved in the cytokine storm driven by SARS-CoV-2 infection and proposed as candidate biomarkers for COVID-19. Methods: To discover signatures of circulating miRNAs associated with COVID-19, disease severity and mortality, small RNA-sequencing was performed on serum samples collected from 89 COVID-19 patients (34 severe, 29 moderate, 26 mild) at hospital admission and from 45 healthy controls (HC). To search for possible sources of miRNAs, investigation of differentially expressed (DE) miRNAs in relevant human cell types in vitro. Results: COVID-19 patients showed upregulation of miRNAs associated with lung disease, vascular damage and inflammation and downregulation of miRNAs that inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, angiogenesis, and stress response. Compared with mild/moderate disease, patients with severe COVID-19 had a miRNA signature indicating a profound impairment of innate and adaptive immune responses, inflammation, lung fibrosis and heart failure. A subset of the DE miRNAs predicted mortality. In particular, a combination of high serum miR-22-3p and miR-21-5p, which target antiviral response genes, and low miR-224-5p and miR-155-5p, targeting pro-inflammatory factors, discriminated severe from mild/moderate COVID-19 (AUROC 0.88, 95% CI 0.80-0.95, p<0.0001), while high leukocyte count and low levels of miR-1-3p, miR-23b-3p, miR-141-3p, miR-155-5p and miR-4433b-5p predicted mortality with high sensitivity and specificity (AUROC 0.95, 95% CI 0.89-1.00, p<0.0001). In vitro experiments showed that some of the DE miRNAs were modulated directly by SARS-CoV-2 infection in permissive lung epithelial cells. Conclusions: We discovered circulating miRNAs associated with COVID-19 severity and mortality. The identified DE miRNAs provided clues on COVID-19 pathogenesis, highlighting signatures of impaired interferon and antiviral responses, inflammation, organ damage and cardiovascular failure as associated with severe disease and death.

COVID-19 , Circulating MicroRNA , MicroRNAs , Antiviral Agents , Humans , Inflammation , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index
Nature ; 584(7821): 425-429, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-628367


On 21 February 2020, a resident of the municipality of Vo', a small town near Padua (Italy), died of pneumonia due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection1. This was the first coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19)-related death detected in Italy since the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province2. In response, the regional authorities imposed the lockdown of the whole municipality for 14 days3. Here we collected information on the demography, clinical presentation, hospitalization, contact network and the presence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nasopharyngeal swabs for 85.9% and 71.5% of the population of Vo' at two consecutive time points. From the first survey, which was conducted around the time the town lockdown started, we found a prevalence of infection of 2.6% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.1-3.3%). From the second survey, which was conducted at the end of the lockdown, we found a prevalence of 1.2% (95% CI: 0.8-1.8%). Notably, 42.5% (95% CI: 31.5-54.6%) of the confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections detected across the two surveys were asymptomatic (that is, did not have symptoms at the time of swab testing and did not develop symptoms afterwards). The mean serial interval was 7.2 days (95% CI: 5.9-9.6). We found no statistically significant difference in the viral load of symptomatic versus asymptomatic infections (P = 0.62 and 0.74 for E and RdRp genes, respectively, exact Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test). This study sheds light on the frequency of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, their infectivity (as measured by the viral load) and provides insights into its transmission dynamics and the efficacy of the implemented control measures.

Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Asymptomatic Infections/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/enzymology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Child , Child, Preschool , Coronavirus Envelope Proteins , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Coronavirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Italy/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Prevalence , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics , Viral Load , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics , Young Adult