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Front Immunol ; 11: 607314, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1389171


Acute lung injury (ALI) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality after viral infections, including influenza A virus H1N1, SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2. The angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a key host membrane-bound protein that modulates ALI induced by viral infection, pulmonary acid aspiration, and sepsis. However, the contributions of ACE2 sequence variants to individual differences in disease risk and severity after viral infection are not understood. In this study, we quantified H1N1 influenza-infected lung transcriptomes across a family of 41 BXD recombinant inbred strains of mice and both parents-C57BL/6J and DBA/2J. In response to infection Ace2 mRNA levels decreased significantly for both parental strains and the expression levels was associated with disease severity (body weight loss) and viral load (expression levels of viral NA segment) across the BXD family members. Pulmonary RNA-seq for 43 lines was analyzed using weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) and Bayesian network approaches. Ace2 not only participated in virus-induced ALI by interacting with TNF, MAPK, and NOTCH signaling pathways, but was also linked with high confidence to gene products that have important functions in the pulmonary epithelium, including Rnf128, Muc5b, and Tmprss2. Comparable sets of transcripts were also highlighted in parallel studies of human SARS-CoV-infected primary human airway epithelial cells. Using conventional mapping methods, we determined that weight loss at two and three days after viral infection maps to chromosome X-the location of Ace2. This finding motivated the hierarchical Bayesian network analysis, which defined molecular endophenotypes of lung infection linked to Ace2 expression and to a key disease outcome. Core members of this Bayesian network include Ace2, Atf4, Csf2, Cxcl2, Lif, Maml3, Muc5b, Reg3g, Ripk3, and Traf3. Collectively, these findings define a causally-rooted Ace2 modulatory network relevant to host response to viral infection and identify potential therapeutic targets for virus-induced respiratory diseases, including those caused by influenza and coronaviruses.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Lung/virology , Virus Diseases/genetics , Animals , Bayes Theorem , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Inbred DBA , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , Signal Transduction/genetics
BMJ Open ; 11(1): e044497, 2021 01 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1013055


INTRODUCTION: Accurate triage is an important first step to effectively manage the clinical treatment of severe cases in a pandemic outbreak. In the current COVID-19 global pandemic, there is a lack of reliable clinical tools to assist clinicians to perform accurate triage. Host response biomarkers have recently shown promise in risk stratification of disease progression; however, the role of these biomarkers in predicting disease progression in patients with COVID-19 is unknown. Here, we present a protocol outlining a prospective validation study to evaluate the biomarkers' performance in predicting clinical outcomes of patients with COVID-19. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This prospective validation study assesses patients infected with COVID-19, in whom blood samples are prospectively collected. Recruited patients include a range of infection severity from asymptomatic to critically ill patients, recruited from the community, outpatient clinics, emergency departments and hospitals. Study samples consist of peripheral blood samples collected into RNA-preserving (PAXgene/Tempus) tubes on patient presentation or immediately on study enrolment. Real-time PCR (RT-PCR) will be performed on total RNA extracted from collected blood samples using primers specific to host response gene expression biomarkers that have been previously identified in studies of respiratory viral infections. The RT-PCR data will be analysed to assess the diagnostic performance of individual biomarkers in predicting COVID-19-related outcomes, such as viral pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome or bacterial pneumonia. Biomarker performance will be evaluated using sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, likelihood ratios and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This research protocol aims to study the host response gene expression biomarkers in severe respiratory viral infections with a pandemic potential (COVID-19). It has been approved by the local ethics committee with approval number 2020/ETH00886. The results of this project will be disseminated in international peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Biomarkers/metabolism , COVID-19/metabolism , Critical Illness/epidemiology , Emergency Service, Hospital/statistics & numerical data , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Triage/methods , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Follow-Up Studies , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prognosis , Prospective Studies , Time Factors