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J Allergy Clin Immunol ; 2022 Jul 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1991092

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection may result in a severe pneumonia associated with elevation of blood inflammatory parameters, reminiscent of cytokine storm syndrome. Steroidal anti-inflammatory therapies have shown efficacy in reducing mortality in critically ill patients; however, the mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 triggers such an extensive inflammation remain unexplained. OBJECTIVES: To dissect the mechanisms underlying SARS-CoV-2-associated inflammation in patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we studied the role of IL-1ß, a pivotal cytokine driving inflammatory phenotypes, whose maturation and secretion are regulated by inflammasomes. METHODS: We analyzed nod-like receptor protein 3 pathway activation by means of confocal microscopy, plasma cytokine measurement, cytokine secretion following in vitro stimulation of blood circulating monocytes, and whole-blood RNA sequencing. The role of open reading frame 3a SARS-CoV-2 protein was assessed by confocal microscopy analysis following nucleofection of a monocytic cell line. RESULTS: We found that circulating monocytes from patients with COVID-19 display ASC (adaptor molecule apoptotic speck like protein-containing a CARD) specks that colocalize with nod-like receptor protein 3 inflammasome and spontaneously secrete IL-1ß in vitro. This spontaneous activation reverts following patient's treatment with the IL-1 receptor antagonist anakinra. Transfection of a monocytic cell line with cDNA coding for the ORF3a SARS-CoV-2 protein resulted in ASC speck formation. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide further evidence that IL-1ß targeting could represent an effective strategy in this disease and suggest a mechanistic explanation for the strong inflammatory manifestations associated with COVID-19.

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