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1.
Diagnostics (Basel) ; 12(6)2022 Jun 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1969126

ABSTRACT

Since the identification of the new severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a huge effort in terms of diagnostic strategies has been deployed. To date, serological assays represent a valuable tool for the identification of recovered COVID-19 patients and for the monitoring of immune response elicited by vaccination. However, the role of T-cell response should be better clarified and simple and easy to perform assays should be routinely introduced. The main aim of this study was to compare a home-made assay for whole blood stimulation with a standardized ELISpot assay design in our laboratory for the assessment of spike-specific T-cell response in vaccinated subjects. Even if a good correlation between the assays was reported, a higher percentage of responder subjects was reported for immunocompromised subjects with ELISpot assay (56%) than home-made whole blood stimulation assay (33%). Additionally, three commercial assays were compared with our home-made assay, reporting a good agreement in terms of both positive and negative results.

2.
Microorganisms ; 10(6):1250, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1894334

ABSTRACT

We compared the development and persistence of antibody and T-cell responses elicited by the mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine or SARS-CoV-2 infection. We analysed 37 post-COVID-19 patients (15 with pneumonia and 22 with mild symptoms) and 20 vaccinated subjects. Anti-Spike IgG and neutralising antibodies were higher in vaccinated subjects and in patients with pneumonia than in patients with mild COVID-19, and persisted at higher levels in patients with pneumonia while declining in vaccinated subjects. However, the booster dose restored the initial antibody levels. The proliferative CD4+ T-cell response was similar in vaccinated subjects and patients with pneumonia, but was lower in mild COVID-19 patients and persisted in both vaccinated subjects and post-COVID patients. Instead, the proliferative CD8+ T-cell response was lower in vaccinated subjects than in patients with pneumonia, decreased six months after vaccination, and was not restored after the booster dose. The cytokine profile was mainly TH1 in both vaccinated subjects and post-COVID-19 patients. The mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine elicited higher levels of antibody and CD4+ T-cell responses than those observed in mild COVID-19 patients. While the antibody response declined after six months and required a booster dose to be restored at the initial levels, the proliferative CD4+ T-cell response persisted over time.

3.
Diagnostics ; 12(6):1509, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1893866

ABSTRACT

Since the identification of the new severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a huge effort in terms of diagnostic strategies has been deployed. To date, serological assays represent a valuable tool for the identification of recovered COVID-19 patients and for the monitoring of immune response elicited by vaccination. However, the role of T-cell response should be better clarified and simple and easy to perform assays should be routinely introduced. The main aim of this study was to compare a home-made assay for whole blood stimulation with a standardized ELISpot assay design in our laboratory for the assessment of spike-specific T-cell response in vaccinated subjects. Even if a good correlation between the assays was reported, a higher percentage of responder subjects was reported for immunocompromised subjects with ELISpot assay (56%) than home-made whole blood stimulation assay (33%). Additionally, three commercial assays were compared with our home-made assay, reporting a good agreement in terms of both positive and negative results.

4.
Curr Issues Mol Biol ; 44(5): 2122-2138, 2022 May 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1869490

ABSTRACT

Neutrophils play a pathogenic role in COVID-19 by releasing Neutrophils Extracellular Traps (NETs) or human neutrophil elastase (HNE). Given that HNE is inhibited by α1-antitrypsin (AAT), we aimed to assess the content of HNE, α1-antitrypsin (AAT) and HNE-AAT complexes (the AAT/HNE balance) in 33 bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALf) samples from COVID-19 patients. These samples were submitted for Gel-Electrophoresis, Western Blot and ELISA, and proteins (bound to AAT or HNE) were identified by Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. NETs' release was analyzed by confocal microscopy. Both HNE and AAT were clearly detectable in BALf at high levels. Contrary to what was previously observed in other settings, the formation of HNE-AAT complex was not detected in COVID-19. Rather, HNE was found to be bound to acute phase proteins, histones and C3. Due to the relevant role of NETs, we assessed the ability of free AAT to bind to histones. While confirming this binding, AAT was not able to inhibit NET formation. In conclusion, despite the finding of a high burden of free and bound HNE, the lack of the HNE-AAT inhibitory complex in COVID-19 BALf demonstrates that AAT is not able to block HNE activity. Furthermore, while binding to histones, AAT does not prevent NET formation nor their noxious activity.

6.
Int J Infect Dis ; 121: 157-160, 2022 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1821282

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The effectiveness of a 3-day course of remdesivir to prevent severe disease in patients with COVID-19 who received solid organ transplant (SOT) is unknown. We wanted to study the efficacy of this therapeutic option in patients with COVID-19 who received SOT in preventing both hospitalizations for outpatients and clinical worsening due to COVID-19 for those already hospitalized for other reasons. METHODS: This is a single-center, retrospective, observational study conducted in the Fondazione IRCSS Policlinico San Matteo of Pavia, Northern Italy. We extracted all the data of patients with COVID-19 receiving SOT who received and did not receive pre-emptive remdesivir between December 23, 2021, and February 26, 2022. We used a Cox proportional hazard model to assess whether receiving pre-emptive remdesivir was associated with lower rates of hospitalization. RESULTS: A total of 24 patients who received SOT were identified. Among these, seven patients (29, 1%) received pre-emptive remdesivir, whereas 17 (70, 9%) patients did not. Receiving remdesivir significantly reduced the hospitalization rate in outpatients who received SOT and the clinical worsening of the condition of already hospitalized patients who received SOT (hazard ratio 0.05; confidence interval [0.00-0.65], P-value = 0.01). CONCLUSION: In our cohort of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 who received SOT, pre-emptive remdesivir was effective in reducing the hospitalization rate due to COVID-19 and in preventing the clinical worsening of the condition of patients who received SOT who were hospitalized for reasons other than COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Organ Transplantation , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Transplant Recipients
7.
iScience ; 25(2): 103743, 2022 Feb 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1611783

ABSTRACT

Information concerning the longevity of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection may have considerable implications for durability of immunity induced by vaccines. Here, we monitored the SARS-CoV-2 specific immune response in COVID-19 patients followed up to 15 months after symptoms onset. Following a peak at day 15-28 postinfection, the IgG antibody response and plasma neutralizing titers gradually decreased over time but stabilized after 6 months. Compared to G614, plasma neutralizing titers were more than 8-fold lower against variants Beta, Gamma, and Delta. SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B and T cells persisted in the majority of patients up to 15 months although a significant decrease in specific T cells, but not B cells, was observed between 6 and 15 months. Antiviral specific immunity, especially memory B cells in COVID-19 convalescent patients, is long-lasting, but some variants of concern may at least partially escape the neutralizing activity of plasma antibodies.

8.
Microorganisms ; 9(12)2021 Dec 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1580570

ABSTRACT

The immunogenicity of severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 virus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines in immunocompromised patients remains to be further explored. Here, we evaluated the immunogenicity elicited by complete vaccination with BNT162b2 vaccine in solid organ transplant recipients (SOTRs). A cohort of 110 SOTRs from Northern Italy were vaccinated with two doses of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine and prospectively monitored at baseline and after 42 days. Both SARS-CoV-2 naïve and recovered subjects were included. Humoral response elicited by vaccination, including SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies (SARS-CoV-2 NT Abs), was evaluated; additionally, ex-vivo ELISpot assay was performed for the quantification of Spike-specific T-cell response. Results were compared with those obtained in a cohort of healthy subjects. In a subset of patients, humoral and T-cell responses against delta variant were also evaluated. Less than 20% of transplanted subjects developed a positive humoral and cell-mediated response after complete vaccination schedule. Overall, median levels of immune response elicited by vaccination were significantly lower with respect to controls in SARS-CoV-2 naïve transplant, but not in SARS-CoV-2 recovered transplanted patients. Additionally, a significant impairment of both humoral and cell-mediated response was observed in mycophenolate-treated patients. Positive delta-SARS-CoV-2 NT Abs levels were detected in almost all the SARS-CoV-2 recovered subjects but not in previously uninfected patients. Our study supports previous observations of a low level of seroconversion after vaccination in transplanted patients.

9.
Viruses ; 13(11)2021 11 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512700

ABSTRACT

The development and persistence of SARS-CoV-2-specific immune response in immunocompetent (IC) and immunocompromised patients is crucial for long-term protection. Immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection was analysed in 57 IC and 15 solid organ transplanted (TX) patients. Antibody responses were determined by ELISA and neutralization assay. T-cell response was determined by stimulation with peptide pools of the Spike, Envelope, Membrane, and Nucleocapsid proteins with a 20-h Activation Induced Marker (AIM) and 7-day lymphoproliferative assays. Antibody response was detected at similar levels in IC and TX patients. Anti-Spike IgG, IgA and neutralizing antibodies persisted for at least one year, while anti-Nucleocapsid IgG declined earlier. Patients with pneumonia developed higher antibody levels than patients with mild symptoms. Similarly, both rapid and proliferative T-cell responses were detected within the first two months after infection at comparable levels in IC and TX patients, and were higher in patients with pneumonia. T-cell response persisted for at least one year in both IC and TX patients. Spike, Membrane, and Nucleocapsid proteins elicited the major CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses, whereas the T-cell response to Envelope protein was negligible. After SARS-CoV-2 infection, antibody and T-cell responses develop rapidly and persist over time in both immunocompetent and transplanted patients.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/immunology , Immunocompromised Host , Organ Transplantation , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Transplant Recipients , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , B-Lymphocytes/immunology , Cell Proliferation , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged
10.
Cell ; 184(19): 4953-4968.e16, 2021 09 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1363913

ABSTRACT

Severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is characterized by overproduction of immune mediators, but the role of interferons (IFNs) of the type I (IFN-I) or type III (IFN-III) families remains debated. We scrutinized the production of IFNs along the respiratory tract of COVID-19 patients and found that high levels of IFN-III, and to a lesser extent IFN-I, characterize the upper airways of patients with high viral burden but reduced disease risk or severity. Production of specific IFN-III, but not IFN-I, members denotes patients with a mild pathology and efficiently drives the transcription of genes that protect against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In contrast, compared to subjects with other infectious or noninfectious lung pathologies, IFNs are overrepresented in the lower airways of patients with severe COVID-19 that exhibit gene pathways associated with increased apoptosis and decreased proliferation. Our data demonstrate a dynamic production of IFNs in SARS-CoV-2-infected patients and show IFNs play opposing roles at distinct anatomical sites.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Interferons/metabolism , Respiratory System/virology , Severity of Illness Index , Age Factors , Aging/pathology , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Epithelial Cells/pathology , Epithelial Cells/virology , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Interferons/genetics , Leukocytes/pathology , Leukocytes/virology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/pathology , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/virology , Viral Load
11.
Front Immunol ; 12: 663303, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1291384

ABSTRACT

The release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), a process termed NETosis, avoids pathogen spread but may cause tissue injury. NETs have been found in severe COVID-19 patients, but their role in disease development is still unknown. The aim of this study is to assess the capacity of NETs to drive epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of lung epithelial cells and to analyze the involvement of NETs in COVID-19. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of severe COVID-19 patients showed high concentration of NETs that correlates with neutrophils count; moreover, the analysis of lung tissues of COVID-19 deceased patients showed a subset of alveolar reactive pneumocytes with a co-expression of epithelial marker and a mesenchymal marker, confirming the induction of EMT mechanism after severe SARS-CoV2 infection. By airway in vitro models, cultivating A549 or 16HBE at air-liquid interface, adding alveolar macrophages (AM), neutrophils and SARS-CoV2, we demonstrated that to trigger a complete EMT expression pattern are necessary the induction of NETosis by SARS-CoV2 and the secretion of AM factors (TGF-ß, IL8 and IL1ß). All our results highlight the possible mechanism that can induce lung fibrosis after SARS-CoV2 infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/physiopathology , Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition , Extracellular Traps/metabolism , Neutrophils/metabolism , Adult , Biopsy , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/cytology , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/immunology , Cell Line , Epithelial Cells/pathology , Humans , Lung/pathology , Pulmonary Fibrosis/etiology , Pulmonary Fibrosis/metabolism
12.
Med (N Y) ; 2(3): 281-295.e4, 2021 03 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1078082

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Monitoring the adaptive immune responses during the natural course of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection provides useful information for the development of vaccination strategies against this virus and its emerging variants. We thus profiled the serum anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody (Ab) levels and specific memory B and T cell responses in convalescent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. METHODS: A total of 119 samples from 88 convalescent donors who experienced mild to critical disease were tested for the presence of elevated anti-spike and anti-receptor binding domain Ab levels over a period of 8 months. In addition, the levels of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing Abs and specific memory B and T cell responses were tested in a subset of samples. FINDINGS: Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Abs were present in 85% of the samples collected within 4 weeks after the onset of symptoms in COVID-19 patients. Levels of specific immunoglobulin M (IgM)/IgA Abs declined after 1 month, while levels of specific IgG Abs and plasma neutralizing activities remained relatively stable up to 6 months after diagnosis. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG Abs were still present, although at a significantly lower level, in 80% of the samples collected at 6-8 months after symptom onset. SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B and T cell responses developed with time and were persistent in all of the patients followed up for 6-8 months. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that protective adaptive immunity following natural infection of SARS-CoV-2 may persist for at least 6-8 months, regardless of disease severity. Development of medium- or long-term protective immunity through vaccination may thus be possible. FUNDING: This project was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (ATAC, no. 101003650), the Italian Ministry of Health (Ricerca Finalizzata grant no. GR-2013-02358399), the Center for Innovative Medicine, and the Swedish Research Council. J.A. was supported by the SciLifeLab/KAW national COVID-19 research program project grant 2020.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Immunoglobulin A , Immunoglobulin G , T-Lymphocytes
13.
BMC Pulm Med ; 20(1): 301, 2020 Nov 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-925848

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) rapidly reached pandemic proportions. Given that the main target of SARS-CoV-2 are lungs leading to severe pneumonia with hyperactivation of the inflammatory cascade, we conducted a prospective study to assess alveolar inflammatory status in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19. METHODS: Diagnostic bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed in 33 adult patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection by real-time PCR on nasopharyngeal swab admitted to the Intensive care unit (ICU) (n = 28) and to the Intermediate Medicine Ward (IMW) (n = 5). We analyze the differential cell count, ultrastructure of cells and Interleukin (IL)6, 8 and 10 levels. RESULTS: ICU patients showed a marked increase in neutrophils (1.24 × 105 ml- 1, 0.85-2.07), lower lymphocyte (0.97 × 105 ml- 1, 0.024-0.34) and macrophages fractions (0.43 × 105 ml- 1, 0.34-1.62) compared to IMW patients (0.095 × 105 ml- 1, 0.05-0.73; 0.47 × 105 ml- 1, 0.28-1.01 and 2.14 × 105 ml- 1, 1.17-3.01, respectively) (p < 0.01). Study of ICU patients BAL by electron transmission microscopy showed viral particles inside mononuclear cells confirmed by immunostaining with anti-viral capsid and spike antibodies. IL6 and IL8 were significantly higher in ICU patients than in IMW (IL6 p < 0.01, IL8 p < 0.0001), and also in patients who did not survive (IL6 p < 0.05, IL8 p = 0.05 vs. survivors). IL10 did not show a significant variation between groups. Dividing patients by treatment received, lower BAL concentrations of IL6 were found in patients treated with steroids as compared to those treated with tocilizumab (p < 0.1) or antivirals (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Alveolitis, associated with COVID-19, is mainly sustained by innate effectors which showed features of extensive activation. The burden of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL6 and IL8 in the broncho-alveolar environment is associated with clinical outcome.


Subject(s)
Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Inflammation/immunology , Interleukin-6/immunology , Interleukin-8/immunology , Leukocytes/immunology , Lung/immunology , Macrophages, Alveolar/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/therapeutic use , Adrenal Cortex Hormones/therapeutic use , Aged , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Betacoronavirus , Bronchoalveolar Lavage , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/cytology , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/virology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Drug Combinations , Female , Humans , Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use , Intensive Care Units , Interleukin-10/immunology , Italy , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/virology , Lopinavir/therapeutic use , Lung/cytology , Lung/virology , Lymphocytes/immunology , Male , Microscopy, Electron, Transmission , Middle Aged , Neutrophils/immunology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Prognosis , Prospective Studies , Respiration, Artificial/methods , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Survival Rate , Virion/metabolism , Virion/ultrastructure
14.
Haematologica ; 105(12): 2834-2840, 2020 12 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-676584

ABSTRACT

Hyperimmune plasma from Covid-19 convalescent is a potential treatment for severe Covid-19. We conducted a multicenter one arm proof of concept interventional study. Patients with Covid-19 disease with moderate-to-severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, elevated C-reactive Protein and need for mechanical ventilation and/or CPAP were enrolled. One to three 250-300 ml unit of hyperimmune plasma (neutralizing antibodies titer ≥1:160) were administered. Primary outcome was 7-days hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes were PaO2/FiO2, laboratory and radiologic changes, as well as weaning from mechanical ventilation and safety. The study observed 46 patients from March, 25 to April, 21 2020. Patients were aged 63, 61% male, of them, 30 were on CPAP and 7 intubated. PaO2/FiO2 was 128 (SD 47). Bilateral infiltrates on chest X-ray was present in 36 patients (84%). Symptoms and ARDS duration were 14 (SD 7) and 6 days (SD 3). Three patients (6.5%) died within 7 days as compared to an expected 15% from the National Statistics and 30% from a small concurrent cohort of 23 patients. The upper one-sided 90%CI was 13.9%, allowing to reject the null hypothesis of a 15% mortality. PaO2/FiO2 increased by 112 units (95%CI 82 to142) in survivors, the chest radiogram severity decreased in 23% (95%CI 5% to 42%); CRP, Ferritin and LDH decreased by 60, 36 and 20% respectively. Weaning from CPAP was obtained in 26/30 patients and 3/7 were extubated. Five serious adverse events occurred in 4 patients (2 likely, 2 possible treatment related). In conclusion, Hyperimmune plasma in Covid-19 shows promising benefits, to be confirmed in a randomized controlled trial. This proof of concept study could open to future developments including hyperimmune plasma banking, development of standardized pharmaceutical products and monoclonal antibodies.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/therapy , Hospital Mortality/trends , Immunization, Passive/methods , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prognosis , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Severity of Illness Index , Survival Rate
15.
Microorganisms ; 8(7)2020 Jun 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-635090

ABSTRACT

The role of immunosuppression in SARS-CoV-2-related disease (COVID-19) is a matter of debate. We here describe the course and the outcome of COVID-19 in a cohort of patients undergoing treatment with calcineurin inhibitors. In this monocentric cohort study, data were collected from the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy up to April 28th 2020. Patients were followed at our hospital for solid organ transplantation or systemic rheumatic disorders (RMDs) and were on calcineurin inhibitor (CNI)-based therapy. Selected patients were referred from the North of Italy. The aim of our study was to evaluate the clinical course of COVID-19 in this setting. We evaluated 385 consecutive patients (220 males, 57%; median age 61 years, IQR 48-69); 331 (86%) received solid organ transplantation and 54 (14%) had a RMD. CNIs were the only immunosuppressant administered in 47 patients (12%). We identified 14 (4%) COVID-19 patients, all transplanted, mainly presenting with fever (86%) and diarrhea (71%). Twelve patients were hospitalized and two of them died, both with severe comorbidities. No patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome or infectious complications. The surviving 10 patients are now fully recovered. The clinical course of COVID-19 patients on CNIs is generally mild, and the risk of superinfection seems low.

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