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JCI Insight ; 7(1)2022 01 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1523122


Neutrophils are recognized as important circulating effector cells in the pathophysiology of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, their role within the inflamed lungs is incompletely understood. Here, we collected bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluids and parallel blood samples of critically ill COVID-19 patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation and compared BAL fluid parameters with those of mechanically ventilated patients with influenza, as a non-COVID-19 viral pneumonia cohort. Compared with those of patients with influenza, BAL fluids of patients with COVID-19 contained increased numbers of hyperactivated degranulating neutrophils and elevated concentrations of the cytokines IL-1ß, IL-1RA, IL-17A, TNF-α, and G-CSF; the chemokines CCL7, CXCL1, CXCL8, CXCL11, and CXCL12α; and the protease inhibitors elafin, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 1. In contrast, α-1 antitrypsin levels and net proteolytic activity were comparable in COVID-19 and influenza BAL fluids. During antibiotic treatment for bacterial coinfections, increased BAL fluid levels of several activating and chemotactic factors for monocytes, lymphocytes, and NK cells were detected in patients with COVID-19 whereas concentrations tended to decrease in patients with influenza, highlighting the persistent immunological response to coinfections in COVID-19. Finally, the high proteolytic activity in COVID-19 lungs suggests considering protease inhibitors as a treatment option.

Bacterial Infections , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid , COVID-19 , Coinfection , Influenza, Human , Adult , Aged , Bacterial Infections/complications , Bacterial Infections/immunology , Bacterial Infections/metabolism , Bacterial Infections/pathology , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/chemistry , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/cytology , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid/immunology , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/pathology , Coinfection/immunology , Coinfection/metabolism , Coinfection/pathology , Cytokines/analysis , Female , Humans , Inflammation , Influenza, Human/complications , Influenza, Human/diagnosis , Influenza, Human/immunology , Influenza, Human/pathology , Lung/immunology , Lung/metabolism , Lung/pathology , Male , Middle Aged
Clin Transl Immunology ; 10(4): e1271, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1525427


OBJECTIVES: Emerging evidence of dysregulation of the myeloid cell compartment urges investigations on neutrophil characteristics in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We isolated neutrophils from the blood of COVID-19 patients receiving general ward care and from patients hospitalised at intensive care units (ICUs) to explore the kinetics of circulating neutrophils and factors important for neutrophil migration and activation. METHODS: Multicolour flow cytometry was exploited for the analysis of neutrophil differentiation and activation markers. Multiplex and ELISA technologies were used for the quantification of protease, protease inhibitor, chemokine and cytokine concentrations in plasma. Neutrophil polarisation responses were evaluated microscopically. Gelatinolytic and metalloproteinase activity in plasma was determined using a fluorogenic substrate. Co-culturing healthy donor neutrophils with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) allowed us to investigate viral replication in neutrophils. RESULTS: Upon ICU admission, patients displayed high plasma concentrations of granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and the chemokine CXCL8, accompanied by emergency myelopoiesis as illustrated by high levels of circulating CD10-, immature neutrophils with reduced CXCR2 and C5aR expression. Neutrophil elastase and non-metalloproteinase-derived gelatinolytic activity were increased in plasma from ICU patients. Significantly higher levels of circulating tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) in patients at ICU admission yielded decreased total MMP proteolytic activity in blood. COVID-19 neutrophils were hyper-responsive to CXCL8 and CXCL12 in shape change assays. Finally, SARS-CoV-2 failed to replicate inside human neutrophils. CONCLUSION: Our study provides detailed insights into the kinetics of neutrophil phenotype and function in severe COVID-19 patients, and supports the concept of an increased neutrophil activation state in the circulation.