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Semin Hematol ; 59(2): 97-107, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1768934


Vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT; synonym, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, is associated with high-titer immunoglobulin G antibodies directed against platelet factor 4 (PF4). These antibodies activate platelets via platelet FcγIIa receptors, with platelet activation greatly enhanced by PF4. Here we summarize the current concepts in the pathogenesis of VITT. We first address parallels between heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and VITT, and provide recent findings on binding of PF4 to adenovirus particles and non-assembled adenovirus proteins in the 2 adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccines, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and Ad26.COV2.S. Further, we discuss the potential role of vaccine constituents such as glycosaminoglycans, EDTA, polysorbate 80, human cell-line proteins and nucleotides as potential binding partners of PF4. The immune response towards PF4 in VITT is likely triggered by a proinflammatory milieu. Human cell-line proteins, non-assembled virus proteins, and potentially EDTA may contribute to the proinflammatory state. The transient nature of the immune response towards PF4 in VITT makes it likely that-as in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia -marginal zone B cells are key for antibody production. Once high-titer anti-PF4 antibodies have been formed 5 to 20 days after vaccination, they activate platelets and granulocytes. Activated granulocytes undergo NETosis and the released DNA also forms complexes with PF4, which fuels the Fcγ receptor-dependent cell activation process, ultimately leading to massive thrombin generation. Finally, we summarize our initial observations indicating that VITT-like antibodies might also be present in rare patients with recurrent venous and arterial thrombotic complications, independent of vaccination.

COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic , Thrombosis , Ad26COVS1 , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/adverse effects , ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 , Edetic Acid/adverse effects , Humans , Platelet Factor 4 , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic/chemically induced , Thrombosis/chemically induced
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-311513


Background: SARS-CoV-2 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCov-19 rarely causes vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) that—like autoimmune heparin-induced thrombocytopenia—is mediated by platelet-activating anti-platelet factor 4 (PF4) antibodies. Methods: We investigated vaccine, PF4, and VITT patient-derived anti-PF4 antibody interactions using dynamic light scattering, 3D-super-resolution microscopy, and electron microscopy. Mass spectrometry was used to analyze vaccine composition. We investigated the mechanism for early post-vaccine inflammatory reactions as potential co-stimulant for anti-PF4 immune response. Finally, we evaluated VITT antibodies for inducing release of procoagulant DNA-containing neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), and measured DNase activity in VITT patient serum. Results: Biophysical analyses showed formation of complexes between PF4 and vaccine constituents, including virus proteins that were recognized by VITT antibodies. EDTA, a vaccine constituent, increased microvascular leakage in mice allowing for circulation of virus- and virus-producing cell culture-derived proteins. Antibodies in normal sera cross-reacted with human proteins in the vaccine and likely contribute to commonly observed acute ChAdOx1 nCov-19 post-vaccination inflammatory reactions. Polyphosphates and DNA enhanced PF4-dependent platelet activation by VITT antibodies. In the presence of platelets, PF4 enhanced VITT antibody-driven procoagulant NETs formation, while DNase activity was reduced in VITT sera, with granulocyte-rich cerebral vein thrombosis observed in a VITT patient. Conclusions: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine constituents (i) form antigenic complexes with PF4, (ii) EDTA increases microvascular permeability, and (iii) vaccine components cause acute inflammatory reactions. Antigen formation in a proinflammatory milieu offers an explanation for anti-PF4 antibody production. High-titer anti-PF4 antibodies activate platelets and induce neutrophil activation and NETs formation, fueling the VITT prothrombotic response.

Blood ; 138(22): 2256-2268, 2021 12 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1443788


SARS-CoV-2 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AstraZeneca) causes a thromboembolic complication termed vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). Using biophysical techniques, mouse models, and analysis of VITT patient samples, we identified determinants of this vaccine-induced adverse reaction. Super-resolution microscopy visualized vaccine components forming antigenic complexes with platelet factor 4 (PF4) on platelet surfaces to which anti-PF4 antibodies obtained from VITT patients bound. PF4/vaccine complex formation was charge-driven and increased by addition of DNA. Proteomics identified substantial amounts of virus production-derived T-REx HEK293 proteins in the ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)-containing vaccine. Injected vaccine increased vascular leakage in mice, leading to systemic dissemination of vaccine components known to stimulate immune responses. Together, PF4/vaccine complex formation and the vaccine-stimulated proinflammatory milieu trigger a pronounced B-cell response that results in the formation of high-avidity anti-PF4 antibodies in VITT patients. The resulting high-titer anti-PF4 antibodies potently activated platelets in the presence of PF4 or DNA and polyphosphate polyanions. Anti-PF4 VITT patient antibodies also stimulated neutrophils to release neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in a platelet PF4-dependent manner. Biomarkers of procoagulant NETs were elevated in VITT patient serum, and NETs were visualized in abundance by immunohistochemistry in cerebral vein thrombi obtained from VITT patients. Together, vaccine-induced PF4/adenovirus aggregates and proinflammatory reactions stimulate pathologic anti-PF4 antibody production that drives thrombosis in VITT. The data support a 2-step mechanism underlying VITT that resembles the pathogenesis of (autoimmune) heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.

Antigen-Antibody Complex/immunology , Autoantibodies/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Capsid Proteins/adverse effects , Drug Contamination , Genetic Vectors/adverse effects , HEK293 Cells/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Platelet Factor 4/immunology , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic/etiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/adverse effects , Adenoviridae/immunology , Animals , Antigen-Antibody Complex/ultrastructure , Autoantibodies/biosynthesis , Capillary Leak Syndrome/etiology , Capsid Proteins/immunology , Cell Line, Transformed , /immunology , Dynamic Light Scattering , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/immunology , Extracellular Traps/immunology , Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials/etiology , Genetic Vectors/immunology , HEK293 Cells/chemistry , Humans , Imaging, Three-Dimensional , Immunoglobulin G/biosynthesis , Inflammation , Mice , Microscopy/methods , Platelet Activation , Proteomics , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic/blood , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic/immunology , Sinus Thrombosis, Intracranial/diagnostic imaging , Sinus Thrombosis, Intracranial/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Virus Cultivation