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Cell ; 184(24): 5932-5949.e15, 2021 11 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1549679


Anosmia, the loss of smell, is a common and often the sole symptom of COVID-19. The onset of the sequence of pathobiological events leading to olfactory dysfunction remains obscure. Here, we have developed a postmortem bedside surgical procedure to harvest endoscopically samples of respiratory and olfactory mucosae and whole olfactory bulbs. Our cohort of 85 cases included COVID-19 patients who died a few days after infection with SARS-CoV-2, enabling us to catch the virus while it was still replicating. We found that sustentacular cells are the major target cell type in the olfactory mucosa. We failed to find evidence for infection of olfactory sensory neurons, and the parenchyma of the olfactory bulb is spared as well. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 does not appear to be a neurotropic virus. We postulate that transient insufficient support from sustentacular cells triggers transient olfactory dysfunction in COVID-19. Olfactory sensory neurons would become affected without getting infected.

Autopsy/methods , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/virology , Olfactory Bulb/virology , Olfactory Mucosa/virology , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , Aged , Anosmia , COVID-19/physiopathology , Endoscopy/methods , Female , Glucuronosyltransferase/biosynthesis , Humans , Immunohistochemistry , In Situ Hybridization , Male , Microscopy, Fluorescence , Middle Aged , Olfaction Disorders , Olfactory Receptor Neurons/metabolism , Respiratory System , SARS-CoV-2 , Smell
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1660, 2021 03 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1132065


In less than nine months, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) killed over a million people, including >25,000 in New York City (NYC) alone. The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 highlights clinical needs to detect infection, track strain evolution, and identify biomarkers of disease course. To address these challenges, we designed a fast (30-minute) colorimetric test (LAMP) for SARS-CoV-2 infection from naso/oropharyngeal swabs and a large-scale shotgun metatranscriptomics platform (total-RNA-seq) for host, viral, and microbial profiling. We applied these methods to clinical specimens gathered from 669 patients in New York City during the first two months of the outbreak, yielding a broad molecular portrait of the emerging COVID-19 disease. We find significant enrichment of a NYC-distinctive clade of the virus (20C), as well as host responses in interferon, ACE, hematological, and olfaction pathways. In addition, we use 50,821 patient records to find that renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitors have a protective effect for severe COVID-19 outcomes, unlike similar drugs. Finally, spatial transcriptomic data from COVID-19 patient autopsy tissues reveal distinct ACE2 expression loci, with macrophage and neutrophil infiltration in the lungs. These findings can inform public health and may help develop and drive SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic, prevention, and treatment strategies.

COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adult , Aged , Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists/pharmacology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , Drug Interactions , Female , Gene Expression Profiling , Genome, Viral , HLA Antigens/genetics , Host Microbial Interactions/drug effects , Host Microbial Interactions/genetics , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques , New York City/epidemiology , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , Pandemics , RNA-Seq , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 6319, 2020 12 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-966313


The relationship of SARS-CoV-2 pulmonary infection and severity of disease is not fully understood. Here we show analysis of autopsy specimens from 24 patients who succumbed to SARS-CoV-2 infection using a combination of different RNA and protein analytical platforms to characterize inter-patient and intra-patient heterogeneity of pulmonary virus infection. There is a spectrum of high and low virus cases associated with duration of disease. High viral cases have high activation of interferon pathway genes and a predominant M1-like macrophage infiltrate. Low viral cases are more heterogeneous likely reflecting inherent patient differences in the evolution of host response, but there is consistent indication of pulmonary epithelial cell recovery based on napsin A immunohistochemistry and RNA expression of surfactant and mucin genes. Using a digital spatial profiling platform, we find the virus corresponds to distinct spatial expression of interferon response genes demonstrating the intra-pulmonary heterogeneity of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

COVID-19 , Host Microbial Interactions , Interferons/metabolism , Lung , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases/metabolism , Autopsy , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/metabolism , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Epithelial Cells/pathology , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Humans , Immunity , Immunohistochemistry , In Situ Hybridization , Interferons/genetics , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Macrophages/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , Mucins/genetics , Mucins/metabolism , Surface-Active Agents/metabolism , Transcriptome , Viral Load