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1.
Pharmaceuticals ; 15(5):540, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1810078

ABSTRACT

The C30 endopeptidase (3C-like protease;3CLpro) is essential for the life cycle of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2) since it plays a pivotal role in viral replication and transcription and, hence, is a promising drug target. Molecules isolated from animals, insects, plants, or microorganisms can serve as a scaffold for the design of novel biopharmaceutical products. Crotamine, a small cationic peptide from the venom of the rattlesnake Crotalus durissus terrificus, has been the focus of many studies since it exhibits activities such as analgesic, in vitro antibacterial, and hemolytic activities. The crotamine derivative L-peptides (L-CDP) that inhibit the 3CL protease in the low µM range were examined since they are susceptible to proteolytic degradation;we explored the utility of their D-enantiomers form. Comparative uptake inhibition analysis showed D-CDP as a promising prototype for a D-peptide-based drug. We also found that the D-peptides can impair SARS-CoV-2 replication in vivo, probably targeting the viral protease 3CLpro.

2.
Kidney360 ; 2(9): 1491-1498, 2021 Sep 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1776854

ABSTRACT

Background: Patients with kidney failure on dialysis or after renal transplantation have a high risk for severe COVID-19 infection, and vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 is the only expedient prophylaxis. Generally, immune responses are attenuated in patients with kidney failure, however, systematic analyses of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in patients on dialysis and in kidney transplant recipients (KTRs) are still needed. Methods: In this prospective, multicentric cohort study, antibody responses to COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (BNT162b2 [BioNTech/Pfizer] or mRNA-1273 [Moderna]) were measured in 32 patients on dialysis and in 28 KTRs. SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies and neutralization capacity were evaluated and compared with controls (n=78) of a similar age range. Results: After the first vaccination, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies were nearly undetectable in patients with kidney failure. After the second vaccination, 93% of the controls and 88% of patients on dialysis but only 37% of KTRs developed SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG above cutoff. Moreover, mean IgG levels were significantly lower in KTRs (54±93 BAU/ml) compared with patients on dialysis (503±481 BAU/ml; P<0.01). Both KTRs and patients on dialysis had significantly lower IgG levels compared with controls (1992±2485 BAU/ml; P<0.001 and P<0.01, respectively). Importantly, compared with controls, neutralizing antibody titers were significantly lower in KTRs and patients on dialysis. After the second vaccination, 76% of KTRs did not show any neutralization capacity against SARS-CoV-2, suggesting impaired seroprotection. Conclusions: Patients with kidney failure show a significantly weaker antibody response compared with controls. Most strikingly, only one out of four KTRs developed neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 after two doses of vaccine. These data suggest that vaccination strategies need modification in KTRs and patients on dialysis.Clinical Trial registry name and registration number: Vaccination Against COVID-19 in Chronic Kidney Disease, NCT04743947.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Kidney Transplantation , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cohort Studies , Humans , Immunity , Prospective Studies , Renal Dialysis , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Mar 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1730665

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Older age is associated with increased severity and death from respiratory infections, including coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). The tuberculosis vaccine Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) may provide heterologous protection against non-tuberculous infections, and has been proposed as a potential preventive strategy against Covid-19. METHODS: In this multicenter, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned elderly individuals (60 years or older, n=2014) to intracutaneous vaccination with BCG (n=1008) or placebo (n=1006). The primary endpoint was the cumulative incidence of respiratory tract infections that required medical intervention, during 12 months of follow-up. Secondary endpoints included the incidence of Covid-19, and the effect of BCG vaccination on the cellular and humoral immune responses. RESULTS: The cumulative incidence of respiratory tract infection requiring medical intervention was 0.029 in the BCG-vaccinated group and 0.024 in the control group (subdistribution hazard ratio [SHR], 1.26; 98.2% confidence interval [CI], 0.65 to 2.44). 51 and 48 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR in the BCG and placebo group, respectively (SHR, 1.053; 95% CI, 0.71 to 1.56). No difference was observed in the frequency of adverse events. BCG vaccination was associated with enhanced cytokines responses after influenza, and partially also after SARS-CoV-2 stimulation. In patients diagnosed with Covid-19, antibody responses after infection were significantly stronger if the volunteers had previously received BCG. CONCLUSIONS: BCG-vaccination had no effect on the incidence of respiratory tract infections, including SARS-CoV-2 infection, in elderly volunteers. However, BCG vaccination improved cytokine responses stimulated by influenza and SARS-CoV-2, and induced stronger antibody titers after Covid-19 infection.

4.
J Med Virol ; 2021 Oct 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1718376

ABSTRACT

We used enzyme-linked immunoassay methods to measure the prevalence and the levels of antibody responses to the nucleocapsid (N) protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and four seasonal human coronaviruses (HCoV-OC43, HCoV-HKU1, HCoV 229E, and HCoV-NL63) in a cohort of 115 convalescent plasma donors infected with SARS-CoV-2 (1-61 days after symptom onset) compared to antibody levels in 114 individuals with no evidence of a recent infection with SARS-CoV-2. In the humoral response to the four seasonal coronaviruses, only HCoV-HKU1- and HCoV-229E-assays showed slightly elevated antibody levels in the COVID group compared to the control group. While in the COVID-group the levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies correlated significantly with disease severity, no association was found in the levels of antibodies against the seasonal coronaviruses. The most striking result in both groups was that the levels of antibodies against all tested coronaviruses, including the new SARS-CoV-2 showed a highly significant correlation with each other. There seems to be an individual predisposition to a weaker or stronger humoral immune response against all known seasonal human coronaviruses including the new SARS-CoV-2, which could lead to a definition of low and high responders against human coronaviruses with potential impact on the assessment of postinfection antibody levels and protection.

5.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327067

ABSTRACT

Background Modification of vaccination strategies is needed to improve the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in kidney transplant recipients (KTRs). Methods This multicenter observational study aimed to determine antibody kinetics among 60 seropositive KTRs and analyzed the effects of the third vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 in 174 previously seronegative KTRs. We investigated whether mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) dose reduction by 25-50% prior the third vaccination influences vaccination success. Results 18 of 60 (30%) seropositive KTRs became seronegative in the serological assay within six months. Loss of antibodies was predicted by low initial antibody levels (≤206.8 BAU/ml), older age, and impaired graft function. A third vaccination in previously seronegative KTRs induced seroconversion in 56 of 174 (32.1%) KTRs with median antibody levels 119 (76–353) BAU/ml and median neutralizing capacity titer of 1:10 (0– 1:40). Multivariate logistic regression revealed that initial antibody levels (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.09–1.76), graft function (OR 0.05, 95% CI 0.01–0.39), time after transplantation (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02–1.07) and MMF trough levels (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.21–0.88) correlated with seroconversion, p<0.05. After controlling for these confounders, the effect of MMF dose reduction was calculated using propensity score matching. KTRs in the MMF reduction group had significantly lower MMF serum concentrations prior to the third vaccination and were more likely to develop antibody levels ≥35.2 BAU/ml than their matched KTRs (p=0.02). Conclusions Temporary reduction in MMF dose might be a promising approach to improve the immune response in KTRs.

6.
Pathogens ; 11(2)2022 Jan 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1650646

ABSTRACT

Concerns of possible transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from donors to patients by corneal transplantation have caused a decline in corneal transplantations. Graft culture media are routinely tested for infectious risks, but it is unclear whether this constitutes a viable means to avoid transmitting SARS-CoV-2 via keratoplasty. We found that SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not present in the medium after seven days of organ culture of corneas from donors (n = 4), who were SARS-CoV-2-positive upon tissue procurement. These medium samples showed no presence of viral RNA. To pursue this question under controlled conditions and further exclude the possibility of productive infection in corneal grafts, we inoculated corneoscleral discs from healthy donors (n = 8) with infectious SARS-CoV-2 and performed PCR testing of the culture medium at various time points. After seven days of culture, we also tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA within the inoculated corneal tissue. The medium from tissue samples inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 showed no increase in viral RNA, which may indicate lack of viral replication in these corneal grafts. SARS-CoV-2-RNA was, however, detected on or in corneal tissue seven days after inoculation. Our data suggest that corneal grafts may not be permissive for replication of SARS-CoV-2 and demonstrates that PCR testing of culture media cannot safely exclude that tissue has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2. It also demonstrates the difficulty to differentiate between virus adherence and virus replication by PCR testing in SARS-CoV-2 exposed tissue.

7.
Clin Infect Dis ; 73(11): 2065-2072, 2021 12 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1560424

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has led to the development of various vaccines. Real-life data on immune responses elicited in the most vulnerable group of vaccinees older than age 80 years old are still underrepresented despite the prioritization of the elderly in vaccination campaigns. METHODS: We conducted a cohort study with 2 age groups, young vaccinees below the age of 60 years and elderly vaccinees over the age of 80 years, to compare their antibody responses to the first and second dose of the BNT162b2 coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination. RESULTS: Although the majority of participants in both groups produced specific immunoglobulin G antibody titers against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, titers were significantly lower in elderly participants. Although the increment of antibody levels after the second immunization was higher in elderly participants, the absolute mean titer of this group remained lower than the <60 years of age group. After the second vaccination, 31.3% of the elderly had no detectable neutralizing antibodies in contrast to the younger group, in which only 2.2% had no detectable neutralizing antibodies. CONCLUSIONS: Our data showed differences between the antibody responses raised after the first and second BNT162b2 vaccination, in particular lower frequencies of neutralizing antibodies in the elderly group. This suggests that this population needs to be closely monitored and may require earlier revaccination and/or an increased vaccine dose to ensure stronger long-lasting immunity and protection against infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Age Factors , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Immunity , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Male , Middle Aged , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vaccination
8.
Front Med (Lausanne) ; 8: 746644, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1497092

ABSTRACT

Prophylactic vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 is one of the most important measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, break-through infections following vaccination against this virus have been reported. Here, we describe the humoral immune response of break-through infections in fully vaccinated individuals of old age from an outbreak in a nursing home. In cooperation with the local health authority, blood samples from fully vaccinated and infected as well as fully vaccinated and uninfected residents of the nursing home were collected 4 weeks after the onset of the outbreak. The humoral immune response was determined in a neutralisation assay with replication-competent virus isolates and by a quantitative ELISA. In this outbreak a total of 23 residents and four health care workers were tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Four residents were unvaccinated, including one with a severe course of disease who later severe disease course who later succumbed to infection. Despite their old age, all vaccinated residents showed no or only mild disease. Comparison of the humoral immune response revealed significantly higher antibody levels in fully vaccinated infected individuals compared to fully vaccinated uninfected individuals (p < 0.001). Notably, although only a minority of the vaccinated uninfected group showed neutralisation capacity against SARS-CoV-2, all vaccinated and infected individuals showed high-titre neutralisation of SARS-CoV-2 including the alpha and beta variant. Large SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks can occur in fully vaccinated populations, but seem to associate with mild disease. SARS-CoV-2 infection in fully vaccinated individuals is a strong booster of the humoral immune response providing enhanced neutralisation capacity against immune evasion variants.

9.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(10): e1009928, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1484868

ABSTRACT

Non-specific protective effects of certain vaccines have been reported, and long-term boosting of innate immunity, termed trained immunity, has been proposed as one of the mechanisms mediating these effects. Several epidemiological studies suggested cross-protection between influenza vaccination and COVID-19. In a large academic Dutch hospital, we found that SARS-CoV-2 infection was less common among employees who had received a previous influenza vaccination: relative risk reductions of 37% and 49% were observed following influenza vaccination during the first and second COVID-19 waves, respectively. The quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine induced a trained immunity program that boosted innate immune responses against various viral stimuli and fine-tuned the anti-SARS-CoV-2 response, which may result in better protection against COVID-19. Influenza vaccination led to transcriptional reprogramming of monocytes and reduced systemic inflammation. These epidemiological and immunological data argue for potential benefits of influenza vaccination against COVID-19, and future randomized trials are warranted to test this possibility.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Cross Protection/physiology , Immunity, Innate/physiology , Influenza Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cytokines/immunology , Cytokines/metabolism , Down-Regulation , Imidazoles/immunology , Incidence , Influenza Vaccines/immunology , Netherlands/epidemiology , Personnel, Hospital , Poly I-C/immunology , Proteomics , Risk Factors , Sequence Analysis, RNA
10.
Am J Transplant ; 22(2): 634-639, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1434623

ABSTRACT

Kidney transplant recipients (KTRs) are extremely vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection and show an impaired immune response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. We analyzed factors related to vaccination efficiency in KTRs. In a multicenter prospective observational study (NCT04743947), IgG antibodies levels against SARS-CoV-2 spike S1 subunit and their neutralization capacity after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination were analyzed in 225 KTRs and compared to 176 controls. After the vaccination, 56 (24.9%) KTRs became seropositive of whom 68% had neutralizing antibodies. This immune response was significantly lower compared to controls (239 [78-519] BAU/ml versus 1826 [560-3180] BAU/ml for KTRs and controls, p < .0001). The strongest predictor for an impaired response was mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) treatment. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that MMF-free regimen was highly associated with seroconversion (OR 13.25, 95% CI 3.22-54.6; p < .001). In contrast, other immunosuppressive drugs had no significant influence. 187 out of 225 KTRs were treated with MMF of whom 26 (13.9%) developed antibodies. 23 of these seropositive KTRs had a daily MMF dose ≤1 g. Furthermore, higher trough MMF concentrations correlated with lower antibody titers (R -0.354, p < .001) supporting a dose-dependent unfavorable effect of MMF. Our data indicate that MMF dose modification could lead to an improved immune response.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Kidney Transplantation , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Immunity , Kidney Transplantation/adverse effects , Mycophenolic Acid/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Transplant Recipients , Vaccination
11.
Front Immunol ; 12: 645989, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1389177

ABSTRACT

We describe the unique disease course and cure of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a patient with SCID and graft failure. In absence of a humoral immune response, viral clearance was only achieved after transfusion of convalescent plasma. This observation underscores the necessity of the humoral immune response for SARS-CoV-2 clearance.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Severe Combined Immunodeficiency/complications , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Female , Graft Rejection/complications , Graft Rejection/immunology , Graft Rejection/virology , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Severe Combined Immunodeficiency/immunology , Severe Combined Immunodeficiency/virology , Sustained Virologic Response , Viral Load , Virus Replication
12.
Viruses ; 13(4)2021 04 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1167762

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes COVID-19 and is responsible for the ongoing pandemic. Screening of potential antiviral drugs against SARS-CoV-2 depend on in vitro experiments, which are based on the quantification of the virus titer. Here, we used virus-induced cytopathic effects (CPE) in brightfield microscopy of SARS-CoV-2-infected monolayers to quantify the virus titer. Images were classified using deep transfer learning (DTL) that fine-tune the last layers of a pre-trained Resnet18 (ImageNet). To exclude toxic concentrations of potential drugs, the network was expanded to include a toxic score (TOX) that detected cell death (CPETOXnet). With this analytic tool, the inhibitory effects of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, and emetine were validated. Taken together we developed a simple method and provided open access implementation to quantify SARS-CoV-2 titers and drug toxicity in experimental settings, which may be adaptable to assays with other viruses. The quantification of virus titers from brightfield images could accelerate the experimental approach for antiviral testing.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Deep Learning , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical/methods , Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions , Machine Learning , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Animals , COVID-19 , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins , Phosphoproteins , Vero Cells , Viral Load/drug effects
13.
Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis ; 40(5): 1063-1071, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1061091

ABSTRACT

Evaluation and power of seroprevalence studies depend on the performed serological assays. The aim of this study was to assess four commercial serological tests from EUROIMMUN, DiaSorin, Abbott, and Roche as well as an in-house immunofluorescence and neutralization test for their capability to identify SARS-CoV-2 seropositive individuals in a high-prevalence setting. Therefore, 42 social and working contacts of a German super-spreader were tested. Consistent with a high-prevalence setting, 26 of 42 were SARS-CoV-2 seropositive by neutralization test (NT), and immunofluorescence test (IFT) confirmed 23 of these 26 positive test results (NT 61.9% and IFT 54.8% seroprevalence). Four commercial assays detected anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 33.3-40.5% individuals. Besides an overall discrepancy between the NT and the commercial assays regarding their sensitivity, this study revealed that commercial SARS-CoV-2 spike-based assays are better to predict the neutralization titer than nucleoprotein-based assays are.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19 Serological Testing/standards , Contact Tracing , Female , Humans , Immunoassay , Male , Middle Aged , Neutralization Tests , Prevalence , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Sensitivity and Specificity , Young Adult
14.
EMBO J ; 39(20): e106230, 2020 10 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-740598

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection is a public health emergency. COVID-19 typically exhibits respiratory illness. Unexpectedly, emerging clinical reports indicate that neurological symptoms continue to rise, suggesting detrimental effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we show that a Düsseldorf isolate of SARS-CoV-2 enters 3D human brain organoids within 2 days of exposure. We identified that SARS-CoV-2 preferably targets neurons of brain organoids. Imaging neurons of organoids reveal that SARS-CoV-2 exposure is associated with altered distribution of Tau from axons to soma, hyperphosphorylation, and apparent neuronal death. Our studies, therefore, provide initial insights into the potential neurotoxic effect of SARS-CoV-2 and emphasize that brain organoids could model CNS pathologies of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/physiology , Brain/virology , Neurons/virology , Animals , Cell Death , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Nervous System Diseases/virology , Organoids , SARS-CoV-2 , Vero Cells , tau Proteins/metabolism
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