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JCI Insight ; 6(18)2021 09 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1435144


Neutrophils provide a critical line of defense in immune responses to various pathogens, inflicting self-damage upon transition to a hyperactivated, procoagulant state. Recent work has highlighted proinflammatory neutrophil phenotypes contributing to lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Here, we use state-of-the art mass spectrometry-based proteomics and transcriptomic and correlative analyses as well as functional in vitro and in vivo studies to dissect how neutrophils contribute to the progression to severe COVID-19. We identify a reinforcing loop of both systemic and neutrophil intrinsic IL-8 (CXCL8/IL-8) dysregulation, which initiates and perpetuates neutrophil-driven immunopathology. This positive feedback loop of systemic and neutrophil autocrine IL-8 production leads to an activated, prothrombotic neutrophil phenotype characterized by degranulation and neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation. In severe COVID-19, neutrophils directly initiate the coagulation and complement cascade, highlighting a link to the immunothrombotic state observed in these patients. Targeting the IL-8-CXCR-1/-2 axis interferes with this vicious cycle and attenuates neutrophil activation, degranulation, NETosis, and IL-8 release. Finally, we show that blocking IL-8-like signaling reduces severe acute respiratory distress syndrome of coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein-induced, human ACE2-dependent pulmonary microthrombosis in mice. In summary, our data provide comprehensive insights into the activation mechanisms of neutrophils in COVID-19 and uncover a self-sustaining neutrophil-IL-8 axis as a promising therapeutic target in severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.

COVID-19/metabolism , Interleukin-8/metabolism , Lung/immunology , Neutrophils/immunology , SARS-CoV-2 , Thrombosis/etiology , Animals , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/pathology , Humans , Lung/pathology , Mice , Neutrophil Activation , Neutrophils/pathology , Phenotype , Thrombosis/pathology
J Thromb Haemost ; 19(2): 574-581, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-939789


OBJECTIVE: Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can lead to severe pneumonia, but also thrombotic complications and non-pulmonary organ failure. Recent studies suggest intravascular neutrophil activation and subsequent immune cell-triggered immunothrombosis as a central pathomechanism linking the heterogenous clinical picture of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We sought to study whether immunothrombosis is a pathognomonic factor in COVID-19 or a general feature of (viral) pneumonia, as well as to better understand its upstream regulation. APPROACH AND RESULTS: By comparing histopathological specimens of SARS-CoV-2 with influenza-affected lungs, we show that vascular neutrophil recruitment, NETosis, and subsequent immunothrombosis are typical features of severe COVID-19, but less prominent in influenza pneumonia. Activated neutrophils were typically found in physical association with monocytes. To explore this further, we combined clinical data of COVID-19 cases with comprehensive immune cell phenotyping and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid scRNA-seq data. We show that a HLADRlow CD9low monocyte population expands in severe COVID-19, which releases neutrophil chemokines in the lungs, and might in turn explain neutrophil expansion and pulmonary recruitment in the late stages of severe COVID-19. CONCLUSIONS: Our data underline an innate immune cell axis causing vascular inflammation and immunothrombosis in severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.

COVID-19/immunology , Immunity, Innate , Influenza, Human/immunology , Lung/immunology , Neutrophils/immunology , Thrombosis/immunology , Vasculitis/immunology , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/virology , Diagnosis, Differential , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Influenza, Human/diagnosis , Influenza, Human/virology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Neutrophils/virology , Predictive Value of Tests , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Thrombosis/virology , Vasculitis/virology