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1.
Nature ; 600(7888): 295-301, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1626235

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes COVID-19. Given its acute and often self-limiting course, it is likely that components of the innate immune system play a central part in controlling virus replication and determining clinical outcome. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes with notable activity against a broad range of viruses, including RNA viruses1,2. NK cell function may be altered during COVID-19 despite increased representation of NK cells with an activated and adaptive phenotype3,4. Here we show that a decline in viral load in COVID-19 correlates with NK cell status and that NK cells can control SARS-CoV-2 replication by recognizing infected target cells. In severe COVID-19, NK cells show defects in virus control, cytokine production and cell-mediated cytotoxicity despite high expression of cytotoxic effector molecules. Single-cell RNA sequencing of NK cells over the time course of the COVID-19 disease spectrum reveals a distinct gene expression signature. Transcriptional networks of interferon-driven NK cell activation are superimposed by a dominant transforming growth factor-ß (TGFß) response signature, with reduced expression of genes related to cell-cell adhesion, granule exocytosis and cell-mediated cytotoxicity. In severe COVID-19, serum levels of TGFß peak during the first two weeks of infection, and serum obtained from these patients severely inhibits NK cell function in a TGFß-dependent manner. Our data reveal that an untimely production of TGFß is a hallmark of severe COVID-19 and may inhibit NK cell function and early control of the virus.

2.
Cell ; 184(26): 6243-6261.e27, 2021 12 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1536467

ABSTRACT

COVID-19-induced "acute respiratory distress syndrome" (ARDS) is associated with prolonged respiratory failure and high mortality, but the mechanistic basis of lung injury remains incompletely understood. Here, we analyze pulmonary immune responses and lung pathology in two cohorts of patients with COVID-19 ARDS using functional single-cell genomics, immunohistology, and electron microscopy. We describe an accumulation of CD163-expressing monocyte-derived macrophages that acquired a profibrotic transcriptional phenotype during COVID-19 ARDS. Gene set enrichment and computational data integration revealed a significant similarity between COVID-19-associated macrophages and profibrotic macrophage populations identified in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. COVID-19 ARDS was associated with clinical, radiographic, histopathological, and ultrastructural hallmarks of pulmonary fibrosis. Exposure of human monocytes to SARS-CoV-2, but not influenza A virus or viral RNA analogs, was sufficient to induce a similar profibrotic phenotype in vitro. In conclusion, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 triggers profibrotic macrophage responses and pronounced fibroproliferative ARDS.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/pathology , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/virology , Macrophages/pathology , Macrophages/virology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Antigens, CD/metabolism , Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic/metabolism , COVID-19/diagnostic imaging , Cell Communication , Cohort Studies , Fibroblasts/pathology , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/diagnostic imaging , Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/genetics , Mesenchymal Stem Cells/pathology , Phenotype , Proteome/metabolism , Receptors, Cell Surface/metabolism , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/diagnostic imaging , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/pathology , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/virology , Tomography, X-Ray Computed , Transcription, Genetic
3.
Viruses ; 13(11)2021 11 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1524173

ABSTRACT

With the exception of inactivated vaccines, all SARS-CoV-2 vaccines currently used for clinical application focus on the spike envelope glycoprotein as a virus-specific antigen. Compared to other SARS-CoV-2 genes, mutations in the spike protein gene are more rapidly selected and spread within the population, which carries the risk of impairing the efficacy of spike-based vaccines. It is unclear to what extent the loss of neutralizing antibody epitopes can be compensated by cellular immune responses, and whether the use of other SARS-CoV-2 antigens might cause a more diverse immune response and better long-term protection, particularly in light of the continued evolution towards new SARS-CoV-2 variants. To address this question, we explored immunogenicity and protective effects of adenoviral vectors encoding either the full-length spike protein (S), the nucleocapsid protein (N), the receptor binding domain (RBD) or a hybrid construct of RBD and the membrane protein (M) in a highly susceptible COVID-19 hamster model. All adenoviral vaccines provided life-saving protection against SARS-CoV-2-infection. The most efficient protection was achieved after exposure to full-length spike. However, the nucleocapsid protein, which triggered a robust T-cell response but did not facilitate the formation of neutralizing antibodies, controlled early virus replication efficiently and prevented severe pneumonia. Although the full-length spike protein is an excellent target for vaccines, it does not appear to be the only option for future vaccine design.

4.
Nature ; 600(7888): 295-301, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1483137

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes COVID-19. Given its acute and often self-limiting course, it is likely that components of the innate immune system play a central part in controlling virus replication and determining clinical outcome. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes with notable activity against a broad range of viruses, including RNA viruses1,2. NK cell function may be altered during COVID-19 despite increased representation of NK cells with an activated and adaptive phenotype3,4. Here we show that a decline in viral load in COVID-19 correlates with NK cell status and that NK cells can control SARS-CoV-2 replication by recognizing infected target cells. In severe COVID-19, NK cells show defects in virus control, cytokine production and cell-mediated cytotoxicity despite high expression of cytotoxic effector molecules. Single-cell RNA sequencing of NK cells over the time course of the COVID-19 disease spectrum reveals a distinct gene expression signature. Transcriptional networks of interferon-driven NK cell activation are superimposed by a dominant transforming growth factor-ß (TGFß) response signature, with reduced expression of genes related to cell-cell adhesion, granule exocytosis and cell-mediated cytotoxicity. In severe COVID-19, serum levels of TGFß peak during the first two weeks of infection, and serum obtained from these patients severely inhibits NK cell function in a TGFß-dependent manner. Our data reveal that an untimely production of TGFß is a hallmark of severe COVID-19 and may inhibit NK cell function and early control of the virus.

5.
Immunity ; 54(11): 2650-2669.e14, 2021 11 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1442406

ABSTRACT

Longitudinal analyses of the innate immune system, including the earliest time points, are essential to understand the immunopathogenesis and clinical course of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Here, we performed a detailed characterization of natural killer (NK) cells in 205 patients (403 samples; days 2 to 41 after symptom onset) from four independent cohorts using single-cell transcriptomics and proteomics together with functional studies. We found elevated interferon (IFN)-α plasma levels in early severe COVD-19 alongside increased NK cell expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) and genes involved in IFN-α signaling, while upregulation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced genes was observed in moderate diseases. NK cells exert anti-SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) activity but are functionally impaired in severe COVID-19. Further, NK cell dysfunction may be relevant for the development of fibrotic lung disease in severe COVID-19, as NK cells exhibited impaired anti-fibrotic activity. Our study indicates preferential IFN-α and TNF responses in severe and moderate COVID-19, respectively, and associates a prolonged IFN-α-induced NK cell response with poorer disease outcome.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Interferon-alpha/immunology , Killer Cells, Natural/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/metabolism , Base Sequence , Humans , Immunity, Innate/immunology , Inflammation/immunology , Interferon-alpha/blood , Pulmonary Fibrosis/pathology , RNA-Seq , Severity of Illness Index , Transcriptome/genetics , United Kingdom , United States
7.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4869, 2021 08 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1354100

ABSTRACT

In COVID-19, immune responses are key in determining disease severity. However, cellular mechanisms at the onset of inflammatory lung injury in SARS-CoV-2 infection, particularly involving endothelial cells, remain ill-defined. Using Syrian hamsters as a model for moderate COVID-19, we conduct a detailed longitudinal analysis of systemic and pulmonary cellular responses, and corroborate it with datasets from COVID-19 patients. Monocyte-derived macrophages in lungs exert the earliest and strongest transcriptional response to infection, including induction of pro-inflammatory genes, while epithelial cells show weak alterations. Without evidence for productive infection, endothelial cells react, depending on cell subtypes, by strong and early expression of anti-viral, pro-inflammatory, and T cell recruiting genes. Recruitment of cytotoxic T cells as well as emergence of IgM antibodies precede viral clearance at day 5 post infection. Investigating SARS-CoV-2 infected Syrian hamsters thus identifies cell type-specific effector functions, providing detailed insights into pathomechanisms of COVID-19 and informing therapeutic strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Disease Models, Animal , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/immunology , Animals , Cricetinae , Cytokines/genetics , Cytokines/immunology , Endothelial Cells/immunology , Humans , Immunoglobulin M/immunology , Inflammation , Lung/immunology , Macrophages/immunology , Mesocricetus , Monocytes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Signal Transduction , T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic/immunology , Toll-Like Receptors/immunology
8.
Cell Rep Med ; 2(6): 100291, 2021 Jun 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1307253

ABSTRACT

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is the main complication of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), requiring admission to the intensive care unit (ICU). Despite extensive immune profiling of COVID-19 patients, to what extent COVID-19-associated ARDS differs from other causes of ARDS remains unknown. To address this question, here, we build 3 cohorts of patients categorized in COVID-19-ARDS+, COVID-19+ARDS+, and COVID-19+ARDS-, and compare, by high-dimensional mass cytometry, their immune landscape. A cell signature associating S100A9/calprotectin-producing CD169+ monocytes, plasmablasts, and Th1 cells is found in COVID-19+ARDS+, unlike COVID-19-ARDS+ patients. Moreover, this signature is essentially shared with COVID-19+ARDS- patients, suggesting that severe COVID-19 patients, whether or not they experience ARDS, display similar immune profiles. We show an increase in CD14+HLA-DRlow and CD14lowCD16+ monocytes correlating to the occurrence of adverse events during the ICU stay. We demonstrate that COVID-19-associated ARDS displays a specific immune profile and may benefit from personalized therapy in addition to standard ARDS management.

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