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2.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-316601

ABSTRACT

Background: Increased inflammation is a hallmark of COVID-19, with pulmonary and systemic inflammation identified in multiple cohorts of patients. Definitive cellular and molecular pathways driving severe forms of this disease remain uncertain. Neutrophils, the most numerous leukocytes in blood circulation, can contribute to immunopathology in infections, inflammatory diseases and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in COVID-19. Neutrophilia, elevated neutrophil:lymphocyte ratios, and elevated neutrophil-associated cytokines are present in COVID-19, but changes in neutrophil functions have not been characterized. Here we analyzed the functional state of circulating neutrophils in COVID-19.Methods: Blood was obtained from critically ill COVID-19 patients over two weeks and healthy controls across multiple timepoints. Plasma cytokine profiles were assessed by bead array. Neutrophils were isolated and tested ex vivo for oxidative burst, neutrophil extracellular trap formation (NETosis) and phagocytosis. Lung tissue was obtained immediately post-mortem from COVID-19 patients for immunostaining.Results: Elevations in neutrophil-associated cytokines IL-8 and IL-6 were identified in COVID-19 plasma both at the first measurement and across their hospitalization (p < 0.0001). Elevations in cytokines IP-10, GM-CSF, IL-1b, IL-10 and TNF were also present at the first measurement and across hospital stays. Functionally, circulating neutrophils from COVID-19 patients had exaggerated oxidative burst (p < 0.0001), NETosis (p < 0.0001) and phagocytosis (p < 0.0001) relative to controls. Increased NETosis was found to be correlated with both leukocytosis and neutrophilia in COVID-19 patients. Neutrophils and NETs were identified within airways and alveoli in lung parenchyma. While elevations in IL-8 and ANC correlated to COVID-19 disease severity, plasma IL-8 levels alone correlated with death.Conclusions: Circulating neutrophils in COVID-19 exhibit an activated phenotype with increased oxidative burst, NETosis and phagocytosis. Readily accessible and dynamic, plasma IL-8 and circulating neutrophil function can be explored as potential COVID-19 disease biomarkers.Funding Statement: This work was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (salary support and VA Merit Award, PI Crotty Alexander) and NIH NHLBI (PI Crotty Alexander).Declaration of Interests: The authors report no conflicts of interest.Ethics Approval Statement: The research protocol was approved by the UCSD, VASDHS and Rady Children’s Hospital institutional review boards (IRBs) and all participants or designated family member gave written informed consent.

3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 74(3): 479-489, 2022 02 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1684541

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Increased inflammation has been well defined in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), while definitive pathways driving severe forms of this disease remain uncertain. Neutrophils are known to contribute to immunopathology in infections, inflammatory diseases, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in COVID-19. Changes in neutrophil function in COVID-19 may give insight into disease pathogenesis and identify therapeutic targets. METHODS: Blood was obtained serially from critically ill COVID-19 patients for 11 days. Neutrophil extracellular trap formation (NETosis), oxidative burst, phagocytosis, and cytokine levels were assessed. Lung tissue was obtained immediately postmortem for immunostaining. PubMed searches for neutrophils, lung, and COVID-19 yielded 10 peer-reviewed research articles in English. RESULTS: Elevations in neutrophil-associated cytokines interleukin 8 (IL-8) and interleukin 6, and general inflammatory cytokines IFN-inducible protien-19, granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin 1ß, interleukin 10, and tumor necrosis factor, were identified both at first measurement and across hospitalization (P < .0001). COVID-19 neutrophils had exaggerated oxidative burst (P < .0001), NETosis (P < .0001), and phagocytosis (P < .0001) relative to controls. Increased NETosis correlated with leukocytosis and neutrophilia, and neutrophils and NETs were identified within airways and alveoli in lung parenchyma of 40% of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected lungs available for examination (2 of 5). While elevations in IL-8 and absolute neutrophil count correlated with disease severity, plasma IL-8 levels alone correlated with death. CONCLUSIONS: Literature to date demonstrates compelling evidence of increased neutrophils in the circulation and lungs of COVID-19 patients. Importantly, neutrophil quantity and activation correlates with severity of disease. Similarly, our data show that circulating neutrophils in COVID-19 exhibit an activated phenotype with enhanced NETosis and oxidative burst.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Extracellular Traps , Critical Illness , Humans , Neutrophil Activation , Neutrophils , Phenotype , SARS-CoV-2
4.
Sci Adv ; 7(34)2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1365115

ABSTRACT

Novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity is highly variable, with pediatric patients typically experiencing less severe infection than adults and especially the elderly. The basis for this difference is unclear. We find that mRNA and protein expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the cell entry receptor for the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19, increases with advancing age in distal lung epithelial cells. However, in humans, ACE2 expression exhibits high levels of intra- and interindividual heterogeneity. Further, cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience endoplasmic reticulum stress, triggering an unfolded protein response and caspase-mediated apoptosis, a natural host defense system that halts virion production. Apoptosis of infected cells can be selectively induced by treatment with apoptosis-modulating BH3 mimetic drugs. Notably, epithelial cells within young lungs and airways are more primed to undergo apoptosis than those in adults, which may naturally hinder virion production and support milder COVID-19 severity.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Apoptosis/genetics , COVID-19/genetics , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Age Factors , Aged , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Cells, Cultured , Chlorocebus aethiops , Female , Humans , Infant , Lung/cytology , Lung/metabolism , Lung/virology , Male , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Severity of Illness Index , Vero Cells , Virus Internalization
6.
EBioMedicine ; 68: 103390, 2021 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1267655

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) continues to challenge the limits of our knowledge and our healthcare system. Here we sought to define the host immune response, a.k.a, the "cytokine storm" that has been implicated in fatal COVID-19 using an AI-based approach. METHOD: Over 45,000 transcriptomic datasets of viral pandemics were analyzed to extract a 166-gene signature using ACE2 as a 'seed' gene; ACE2 was rationalized because it encodes the receptor that facilitates the entry of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) into host cells. An AI-based approach was used to explore the utility of the signature in navigating the uncharted territory of Covid-19, setting therapeutic goals, and finding therapeutic solutions. FINDINGS: The 166-gene signature was surprisingly conserved across all viral pandemics, including COVID-19, and a subset of 20-genes classified disease severity, inspiring the nomenclatures ViP and severe-ViP signatures, respectively. The ViP signatures pinpointed a paradoxical phenomenon wherein lung epithelial and myeloid cells mount an IL15 cytokine storm, and epithelial and NK cell senescence and apoptosis determine severity/fatality. Precise therapeutic goals could be formulated; these goals were met in high-dose SARS-CoV-2-challenged hamsters using either neutralizing antibodies that abrogate SARS-CoV-2•ACE2 engagement or a directly acting antiviral agent, EIDD-2801. IL15/IL15RA were elevated in the lungs of patients with fatal disease, and plasma levels of the cytokine prognosticated disease severity. INTERPRETATION: The ViP signatures provide a quantitative and qualitative framework for titrating the immune response in viral pandemics and may serve as a powerful unbiased tool to rapidly assess disease severity and vet candidate drugs. FUNDING: This work was supported by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) [grants CA151673 and GM138385 (to DS) and AI141630 (to P.G), DK107585-05S1 (SD) and AI155696 (to P.G, D.S and S.D), U19-AI142742 (to S. C, CCHI: Cooperative Centers for Human Immunology)]; Research Grants Program Office (RGPO) from the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) (R00RG2628 & R00RG2642 to P.G, D.S and S.D); the UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center (to P.G, D.S and S.D); LJI Institutional Funds (to S.C); the VA San Diego Healthcare System Institutional funds (to L.C.A). GDK was supported through The American Association of Immunologists Intersect Fellowship Program for Computational Scientists and Immunologists. ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: The host immune response in COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , COVID-19/genetics , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Interleukin-15/genetics , Receptors, Interleukin-15/genetics , Virus Diseases/genetics , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/administration & dosage , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Artificial Intelligence , Autopsy , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/immunology , Cricetinae , Cytidine/administration & dosage , Cytidine/analogs & derivatives , Cytidine/pharmacology , Databases, Genetic , Disease Models, Animal , Gene Regulatory Networks/drug effects , Genetic Markers/drug effects , Humans , Hydroxylamines/administration & dosage , Hydroxylamines/pharmacology , Interleukin-15/blood , Lung/immunology , Mesocricetus , Pandemics , Receptors, Interleukin-15/blood , Virus Diseases/immunology
7.
Clin Infect Dis ; 74(3): 479-489, 2022 02 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1228461

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Increased inflammation has been well defined in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), while definitive pathways driving severe forms of this disease remain uncertain. Neutrophils are known to contribute to immunopathology in infections, inflammatory diseases, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in COVID-19. Changes in neutrophil function in COVID-19 may give insight into disease pathogenesis and identify therapeutic targets. METHODS: Blood was obtained serially from critically ill COVID-19 patients for 11 days. Neutrophil extracellular trap formation (NETosis), oxidative burst, phagocytosis, and cytokine levels were assessed. Lung tissue was obtained immediately postmortem for immunostaining. PubMed searches for neutrophils, lung, and COVID-19 yielded 10 peer-reviewed research articles in English. RESULTS: Elevations in neutrophil-associated cytokines interleukin 8 (IL-8) and interleukin 6, and general inflammatory cytokines IFN-inducible protien-19, granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin 1ß, interleukin 10, and tumor necrosis factor, were identified both at first measurement and across hospitalization (P < .0001). COVID-19 neutrophils had exaggerated oxidative burst (P < .0001), NETosis (P < .0001), and phagocytosis (P < .0001) relative to controls. Increased NETosis correlated with leukocytosis and neutrophilia, and neutrophils and NETs were identified within airways and alveoli in lung parenchyma of 40% of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected lungs available for examination (2 of 5). While elevations in IL-8 and absolute neutrophil count correlated with disease severity, plasma IL-8 levels alone correlated with death. CONCLUSIONS: Literature to date demonstrates compelling evidence of increased neutrophils in the circulation and lungs of COVID-19 patients. Importantly, neutrophil quantity and activation correlates with severity of disease. Similarly, our data show that circulating neutrophils in COVID-19 exhibit an activated phenotype with enhanced NETosis and oxidative burst.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Extracellular Traps , Critical Illness , Humans , Neutrophil Activation , Neutrophils , Phenotype , SARS-CoV-2
8.
bioRxiv ; 2021 Apr 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-807000

ABSTRACT

We sought to define the host immune response, a.k.a, the "cytokine storm" that has been implicated in fatal COVID-19 using an AI-based approach. Over 45,000 transcriptomic datasets of viral pandemics were analyzed to extract a 166-gene signature using ACE2 as a 'seed' gene; ACE2 was rationalized because it encodes the receptor that facilitates the entry of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) into host cells. Surprisingly, this 166-gene signature was conserved in all vi ral p andemics, including COVID-19, and a subset of 20-genes classified disease severity, inspiring the nomenclatures ViP and severe-ViP signatures, respectively. The ViP signatures pinpointed a paradoxical phenomenon wherein lung epithelial and myeloid cells mount an IL15 cytokine storm, and epithelial and NK cell senescence and apoptosis determines severity/fatality. Precise therapeutic goals were formulated and subsequently validated in high-dose SARS-CoV-2-challenged hamsters using neutralizing antibodies that abrogate SARS-CoV-2•ACE2 engagement or a directly acting antiviral agent, EIDD-2801. IL15/IL15RA were elevated in the lungs of patients with fatal disease, and plasma levels of the cytokine tracked with disease severity. Thus, the ViP signatures provide a quantitative and qualitative framework for titrating the immune response in viral pandemics and may serve as a powerful unbiased tool to rapidly assess disease severity and vet candidate drugs. ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: The host immune response in COVID-19. PANEL RESEARCH IN CONTEXT: Evidence before this study: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has inspired many groups to find innovative methodologies that can help us understand the host immune response to the virus; unchecked proportions of such immune response have been implicated in fatality. We searched GEO and ArrayExpress that provided many publicly available gene expression data that objectively measure the host immune response in diverse conditions. However, challenges remain in identifying a set of host response events that are common to every condition. There are no studies that provide a reproducible assessment of prognosticators of disease severity, the host response, and therapeutic goals. Consequently, therapeutic trials for COVID-19 have seen many more 'misses' than 'hits'. This work used multiple (> 45,000) gene expression datasets from GEO and ArrayExpress and analyzed them using an unbiased computational approach that relies upon fundamentals of gene expression patterns and mathematical precision when assessing them.Added value of this study: This work identifies a signature that is surprisingly conserved in all viral pandemics, including Covid-19, inspiring the nomenclature ViP-signature. A subset of 20-genes classified disease severity in respiratory pandemics. The ViP signatures pinpointed the nature and source of the 'cytokine storm' mounted by the host. They also helped formulate precise therapeutic goals and rationalized the repurposing of FDA-approved drugs.Implications of all the available evidence: The ViP signatures provide a quantitative and qualitative framework for assessing the immune response in viral pandemics when creating pre-clinical models; they serve as a powerful unbiased tool to rapidly assess disease severity and vet candidate drugs.

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