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Am J Respir Crit Care Med ; 205(12): 1403-1418, 2022 06 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2098104


Rationale: Lymphopenia is common in severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19), yet the immune mechanisms are poorly understood. As inflammatory cytokines are increased in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, we hypothesized a role in contributing to reduced T-cell numbers. Objectives: We sought to characterize the functional SARS-CoV-2 T-cell responses in patients with severe versus recovered, mild COVID-19 to determine whether differences were detectable. Methods: Using flow cytometry and single-cell RNA sequence analyses, we assessed SARS-CoV-2-specific responses in our cohort. Measurements and Main Results: In 148 patients with severe COVID-19, we found lymphopenia was associated with worse survival. CD4+ lymphopenia predominated, with lower CD4+/CD8+ ratios in severe COVID-19 compared with patients with mild disease (P < 0.0001). In severe disease, immunodominant CD4+ T-cell responses to Spike-1 (S1) produced increased in vitro TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-α) but demonstrated impaired S1-specific proliferation and increased susceptibility to activation-induced cell death after antigen exposure. CD4+TNF-α+ T-cell responses inversely correlated with absolute CD4+ counts from patients with severe COVID-19 (n = 76; R = -0.797; P < 0.0001). In vitro TNF-α blockade, including infliximab or anti-TNF receptor 1 antibodies, strikingly rescued S1-specific CD4+ T-cell proliferation and abrogated S1-specific activation-induced cell death in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with severe COVID-19 (P < 0.001). Single-cell RNA sequencing demonstrated marked downregulation of type-1 cytokines and NFκB signaling in S1-stimulated CD4+ cells with infliximab treatment. We also evaluated BAL and lung explant CD4+ T cells recovered from patients with severe COVID-19 and observed that lung T cells produced higher TNF-α compared with peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Conclusions: Together, our findings show CD4+ dysfunction in severe COVID-19 is TNF-α/TNF receptor 1-dependent through immune mechanisms that may contribute to lymphopenia. TNF-α blockade may be beneficial in severe COVID-19.

COVID-19 , Lymphopenia , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Cytokines , Humans , Infliximab , Leukocytes, Mononuclear , Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor , SARS-CoV-2 , Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
Clin Infect Dis ; 75(1): e630-e644, 2022 08 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1886372


BACKGROUND: We studied humoral responses after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination across varying causes of immunodeficiency. METHODS: Prospective study of fully vaccinated immunocompromised adults (solid organ transplant [SOT], hematologic malignancy, solid cancers, autoimmune conditions, human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]) versus nonimmunocompromised healthcare workers (HCWs). The primary outcome was the proportion with a reactive test (seropositive) for immunoglobulin G to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) receptor-binding domain. Secondary outcomes were comparisons of antibody levels and their correlation with pseudovirus neutralization titers. Stepwise logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with seropositivity. RESULTS: A total of 1271 participants enrolled: 1099 immunocompromised and 172 HCW. Compared with HCW (92.4% seropositive), seropositivity was lower among participants with SOT (30.7%), hematological malignancies (50.0%), autoimmune conditions (79.1%), solid tumors (78.7%), and HIV (79.8%) (P < .01). Factors associated with poor seropositivity included age, greater immunosuppression, time since vaccination, anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies, and vaccination with BNT162b2 (Pfizer) or adenovirus vector vaccines versus messenger RNA (mRNA)-1273 (Moderna). mRNA-1273 was associated with higher antibody levels than BNT162b2 or adenovirus vector vaccines after adjusting for time since vaccination, age, and underlying condition. Antibody levels were strongly correlated with pseudovirus neutralization titers (Spearman r = 0.89, P < .0001), but in seropositive participants with intermediate antibody levels, neutralization titers were significantly lower in immunocompromised individuals versus HCW. CONCLUSIONS: Antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccines were lowest among SOT and anti-CD20 monoclonal recipients, and recipients of vaccines other than mRNA-1273. Among those with intermediate antibody levels, pseudovirus neutralization titers were lower in immunocompromised patients than HCWs. Additional SARS-CoV-2 preventive approaches are needed for immunocompromised persons, which may need to be tailored to the cause of immunodeficiency.

COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Adult , Antibodies, Viral , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , HIV Infections/complications , Humans , Immunocompromised Host , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination