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1.
Genome Med ; 13(1): 7, 2021 01 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1027902

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is currently leading to increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients all over the world. Clinical presentations range from asymptomatic, mild respiratory tract infection, to severe cases with acute respiratory distress syndrome, respiratory failure, and death. Reports on a dysregulated immune system in the severe cases call for a better characterization and understanding of the changes in the immune system. METHODS: In order to dissect COVID-19-driven immune host responses, we performed RNA-seq of whole blood cell transcriptomes and granulocyte preparations from mild and severe COVID-19 patients and analyzed the data using a combination of conventional and data-driven co-expression analysis. Additionally, publicly available data was used to show the distinction from COVID-19 to other diseases. Reverse drug target prediction was used to identify known or novel drug candidates based on finding from data-driven findings. RESULTS: Here, we profiled whole blood transcriptomes of 39 COVID-19 patients and 10 control donors enabling a data-driven stratification based on molecular phenotype. Neutrophil activation-associated signatures were prominently enriched in severe patient groups, which was corroborated in whole blood transcriptomes from an independent second cohort of 30 as well as in granulocyte samples from a third cohort of 16 COVID-19 patients (44 samples). Comparison of COVID-19 blood transcriptomes with those of a collection of over 3100 samples derived from 12 different viral infections, inflammatory diseases, and independent control samples revealed highly specific transcriptome signatures for COVID-19. Further, stratified transcriptomes predicted patient subgroup-specific drug candidates targeting the dysregulated systemic immune response of the host. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides novel insights in the distinct molecular subgroups or phenotypes that are not simply explained by clinical parameters. We show that whole blood transcriptomes are extremely informative for COVID-19 since they capture granulocytes which are major drivers of disease severity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Neutrophils/metabolism , Transcriptome , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/virology , Case-Control Studies , Down-Regulation , Drug Repositioning , Humans , Neutrophils/cytology , Neutrophils/immunology , Phenotype , Principal Component Analysis , RNA/blood , RNA/chemistry , RNA/metabolism , Sequence Analysis, RNA , Severity of Illness Index , Up-Regulation
2.
Cell ; 182(6): 1419-1440.e23, 2020 09 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-694631

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a mild to moderate respiratory tract infection, however, a subset of patients progress to severe disease and respiratory failure. The mechanism of protective immunity in mild forms and the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 associated with increased neutrophil counts and dysregulated immune responses remain unclear. In a dual-center, two-cohort study, we combined single-cell RNA-sequencing and single-cell proteomics of whole-blood and peripheral-blood mononuclear cells to determine changes in immune cell composition and activation in mild versus severe COVID-19 (242 samples from 109 individuals) over time. HLA-DRhiCD11chi inflammatory monocytes with an interferon-stimulated gene signature were elevated in mild COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 was marked by occurrence of neutrophil precursors, as evidence of emergency myelopoiesis, dysfunctional mature neutrophils, and HLA-DRlo monocytes. Our study provides detailed insights into the systemic immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and reveals profound alterations in the myeloid cell compartment associated with severe COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Myeloid Cells/immunology , Myelopoiesis , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Adult , Aged , CD11 Antigens/genetics , CD11 Antigens/metabolism , COVID-19 , Cells, Cultured , Coronavirus Infections/blood , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Female , HLA-DR Antigens/genetics , HLA-DR Antigens/metabolism , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Myeloid Cells/cytology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/blood , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Proteome/genetics , Proteome/metabolism , Proteomics , Single-Cell Analysis
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