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EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-329471


The immune system of most SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals limits viral spread to the upper airways without pulmonary involvement. This prevents the development of pneumonic COVID-19. However, the protective immunological responses causative of successful viral containment in the upper airways remain unclear. Here, we combine longitudinal single-cell RNA sequencing, proteomic profiling, multidimensional flow cytometry, RNA-Seq of FACS-sorted leukocyte subsets and multiplex plasma interferon profiling to uncover temporally resolved protective immune signatures in non-pneumonic and ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. We compare host responses in a high-risk patient population infected with SARS-CoV-2 but without pulmonary involvement to patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. Our data reveal a distinct immunological signature of successful viral containment, characterized by an early prominent interferon stimulated gene (ISG) upregulation across immune cell subsets. In addition, reduced cytotoxic potential of Natural Killer (NK) and T cells, as well as a monocyte phenotype with immune-modulatory potential are hallmarks of protective immunity. Temporal resolution across disease trajectories highlights ISG upregulation as particularly prominent early in the disease and confirms increased expression also in comparison to healthy controls. We validate this distinct temporal ISG signature by in-depth RNA-seq of FACS-sorted leukocyte subsets in a large prospective ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected cohort confirming early and robust ISG upregulation particularly in monocytes and T cells. In conclusion, our data demonstrate a protective ISG phenotype in patients with successful containment of SARS-CoV-2 infection without progression to COVID-19. This early protective interferon response might be exploited as a therapeutic approach and for disease course prediction.

Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1018, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1702467


The antiviral immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection can limit viral spread and prevent development of pneumonic COVID-19. However, the protective immunological response associated with successful viral containment in the upper airways remains unclear. Here, we combine a multi-omics approach with longitudinal sampling to reveal temporally resolved protective immune signatures in non-pneumonic and ambulatory SARS-CoV-2 infected patients and associate specific immune trajectories with upper airway viral containment. We see a distinct systemic rather than local immune state associated with viral containment, characterized by interferon stimulated gene (ISG) upregulation across circulating immune cell subsets in non-pneumonic SARS-CoV2 infection. We report reduced cytotoxic potential of Natural Killer (NK) and T cells, and an immune-modulatory monocyte phenotype associated with protective immunity in COVID-19. Together, we show protective immune trajectories in SARS-CoV2 infection, which have important implications for patient prognosis and the development of immunomodulatory therapies.

COVID-19/immunology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Ambulatory Care , Cytokines/blood , Female , Gene Expression Regulation , Gene Regulatory Networks , Humans , Interferons/immunology , Killer Cells, Natural/immunology , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Monocytes/immunology , Nasopharynx/immunology , Nasopharynx/virology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology
JCI Insight ; 6(18)2021 09 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1435144


Neutrophils provide a critical line of defense in immune responses to various pathogens, inflicting self-damage upon transition to a hyperactivated, procoagulant state. Recent work has highlighted proinflammatory neutrophil phenotypes contributing to lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Here, we use state-of-the art mass spectrometry-based proteomics and transcriptomic and correlative analyses as well as functional in vitro and in vivo studies to dissect how neutrophils contribute to the progression to severe COVID-19. We identify a reinforcing loop of both systemic and neutrophil intrinsic IL-8 (CXCL8/IL-8) dysregulation, which initiates and perpetuates neutrophil-driven immunopathology. This positive feedback loop of systemic and neutrophil autocrine IL-8 production leads to an activated, prothrombotic neutrophil phenotype characterized by degranulation and neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation. In severe COVID-19, neutrophils directly initiate the coagulation and complement cascade, highlighting a link to the immunothrombotic state observed in these patients. Targeting the IL-8-CXCR-1/-2 axis interferes with this vicious cycle and attenuates neutrophil activation, degranulation, NETosis, and IL-8 release. Finally, we show that blocking IL-8-like signaling reduces severe acute respiratory distress syndrome of coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein-induced, human ACE2-dependent pulmonary microthrombosis in mice. In summary, our data provide comprehensive insights into the activation mechanisms of neutrophils in COVID-19 and uncover a self-sustaining neutrophil-IL-8 axis as a promising therapeutic target in severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.

COVID-19/metabolism , Interleukin-8/metabolism , Lung/immunology , Neutrophils/immunology , SARS-CoV-2 , Thrombosis/etiology , Animals , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/pathology , Humans , Lung/pathology , Mice , Neutrophil Activation , Neutrophils/pathology , Phenotype , Thrombosis/pathology