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PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-6307


We performed comparative lower respiratory tract transcriptional profiling of 52 critically ill patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) from COVID-19 or from other etiologies, as well as controls without ARDS. In contrast to a cytokine storm, we observed reduced proinflammatory gene expression in COVID-19 ARDS when compared to ARDS due to other causes. COVID-19 ARDS was characterized by a dysregulated host response with increased PTEN signaling and elevated expression of genes with non-canonical roles in inflammation and immunity that were predicted to be modulated by dexamethasone and granulocyte colony stimulating factor. Compared to ARDS due to other types of viral pneumonia, COVID-19 was characterized by impaired interferon-stimulated gene expression (ISG). We found that the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 viral load and expression of ISGs was decoupled in patients with COVID-19 ARDS when compared to patients with mild COVID-19. In summary, assessment of host gene expression in the lower airways of patients with COVID-19 ARDS did not demonstrate cytokine storm but instead revealed a unique and dysregulated host response predicted to be modified by dexamethasone.