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2.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-292556

ABSTRACT

Neurological manifestations are common in COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Despite some reports of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of patients with COVID-19, it is still unclear whether the virus can infect the central nervous system (CNS), and which neuropathological alterations can be ascribed to viral tropism rather than immune-mediated mechanisms. Available autopsy reports are often conflictual, reporting a heterogeneous spectrum of neuropathological alterations, while viral proteins and RNA were detected only in sparse cells within the brainstem;furthermore, there appears to be no consistent correlation between viral invasion and neuropathological alterations to date. Here, we assess the neuropathological changes occurring in 24 patients who died following a diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic (from March 2020 to May 2021) and 10 age-matched controls with comparable medical conditions. Aside from a wide spectrum of neuropathological alterations, including astrogliosis, sparse lympho-monocytic infiltrations and several instances of small vessel thromboses, we identified 5 COVID-19 subjects presenting SARS-CoV-2-immunoreactive neurons within the boundaries of the solitary tract nucleus, nucleus ambiguus and substantia nigra in the brainstem. In these subjects, viral RNA was also detected by real-time RT-PCR. Quantification of reactive microglia revealed an anatomically segregated pattern of inflammation targeting mainly the medulla oblongata and the mesencephalon, and was significantly higher when compared to controls. However, SARS-CoV-2 direct invasion did not appear to correlate with the severity of neuropathological changes. The results of this study support the neuroinvasive potential of SARS-CoV-2 by demonstrating the presence of viral proteins and genome sequences within the human brainstem, but further investigation is required to identify the link between invasion and consequent neuropathological alterations in humans.

3.
Front Immunol ; 12: 736529, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1515533

ABSTRACT

Various authors have hypothesized carotid body (CB) involvement in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), through direct invasion or indirect effects by systemic stimuli ('cytokine storm', angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE]1/ACE2 imbalance). However, empirical evidence is limited or partial. Here, we present an integrated histopathological and virological analysis of CBs sampled at autopsy from four subjects (2 males and 2 females; age: >70 years old) who died of COVID-19. Histopathological, immunohistochemical and molecular investigation techniques were employed to characterize Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) viral invasion and inflammatory reaction. SARS-CoV2 RNA was detected in the CBs of three cases through Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). In these cases, positive immunostaining for Nucleocapsid and Spike protein were also demonstrated, mainly at the level of large roundish cells consistent with type I cells, confirming direct CB invasion. In these cases, T lymphocytes showed focal aggregations in the CBs, suggestive of local inflammatory reaction. Blood congestion and microthrombosis were also found in one of the positive cases. Intriguingly, microthrombosis, blood congestion and microhaemorrages were also bilaterally detected in the CBs of the negative case, supporting the possibility of COVID-19 effects on the CB even in the absence of its direct invasion. SARS-CoV-2 direct invasion of the CB is confirmed through both immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR, with likely involvement of different cell types. We also reported histopathological findings which could be ascribed to local and/or systemic actions of SARS-CoV-2 and which could potentially affect chemoreception.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Carotid Body , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Autopsy , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Carotid Body/pathology , Carotid Body/virology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Female , Humans , Male , Phosphoproteins/metabolism , RNA, Viral/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
4.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(9): e1009878, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1394563

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 fine-tunes the interferon (IFN)-induced antiviral responses, which play a key role in preventing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) progression. Indeed, critically ill patients show an impaired type I IFN response accompanied by elevated inflammatory cytokine and chemokine levels, responsible for cell and tissue damage and associated multi-organ failure. Here, the early interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and immune cells was investigated by interrogating an in vitro human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)-based experimental model. We found that, even in absence of a productive viral replication, the virus mediates a vigorous TLR7/8-dependent production of both type I and III IFNs and inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, known to contribute to the cytokine storm observed in COVID-19. Interestingly, we observed how virus-induced type I IFN secreted by PBMC enhances anti-viral response in infected lung epithelial cells, thus, inhibiting viral replication. This type I IFN was released by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) via an ACE-2-indipendent but Neuropilin-1-dependent mechanism. Viral sensing regulates pDC phenotype by inducing cell surface expression of PD-L1 marker, a feature of type I IFN producing cells. Coherently to what observed in vitro, asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infected subjects displayed a similar pDC phenotype associated to a very high serum type I IFN level and induction of anti-viral IFN-stimulated genes in PBMC. Conversely, hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 display very low frequency of circulating pDC with an inflammatory phenotype and high levels of chemokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines in serum. This study further shed light on the early events resulting from the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and immune cells occurring in vitro and confirmed ex vivo. These observations can improve our understanding on the contribution of pDC/type I IFN axis in the regulation of the anti-viral state in asymptomatic and severe COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Dendritic Cells/classification , Interferon Type I/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Aged, 80 and over , Asymptomatic Infections , Cell Line, Tumor , Dendritic Cells/immunology , Dendritic Cells/virology , Epithelial Cells/cytology , Female , Hospitalization , Humans , Interferon Type I/immunology , Lung/cytology , Male , Middle Aged , Neuropilin-1/metabolism , Phenotype , Severity of Illness Index , Toll-Like Receptor 7/metabolism
5.
J Travel Med ; 28(8)2021 12 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1364814

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In August 2020, in the context of COVID-19 pandemics, an autochthonous dengue outbreak was identified for the first time in Italy. METHODS: Following the reporting of the index case of autochthonous dengue, epidemiological investigation, vector control and substances of human origin safety measures were immediately activated, according to the national arbovirus surveillance plan. Dengue cases were followed-up with weekly visits and laboratory tests until recovery and clearance of viral RNA from blood. RESULTS: The primary dengue case was identified in a young woman, who developed fever after returning from Indonesia to northern Italy, on 27 July 2020. She spent the mandatory quarantine for COVID-19 at home with relatives, six of whom developed dengue within two weeks. Epidemiological investigation identified further five autochthonous dengue cases among people who lived or stayed near the residence of the primary case. The last case of the outbreak developed fever on 29 September 2020. Dengue cases had a mild febrile illness, except one with persistent asthenia and myalgia. DENV-1 RNA was detected in blood and/or urine in all autochthonous cases, up to 35 days after fever onset. All cases developed IgM and IgG antibodies which cross-reacted with West Nile virus (WNV) and other flaviviruses. Sequencing of the full viral genome from blood samples showed over 99% nucleotide identity with DENV-1 strains isolated in China in 2014-2015; phylogenetic analysis classified the virus within Genotype I. Entomological site inspection identified a high density of Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which conceivably sustained local DENV-1 transmission. Aedes koreicus mosquitoes were also collected in the site. CONCLUSIONS: Areas in Europe with high density of Aedes mosquitoes should be considered at risk for dengue transmission. The presence of endemic flaviviruses, such as WNV, might pose problems in the laboratory diagnosis.


Subject(s)
Aedes , COVID-19 , Dengue Virus , Dengue , Animals , Dengue/epidemiology , Dengue Virus/genetics , Disease Outbreaks , Female , Humans , Italy/epidemiology , Mosquito Vectors , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2
6.
Front Immunol ; 12: 676828, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1320577

ABSTRACT

In coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), ulcerative lesions have been episodically reported in various segments of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the oral cavity, oropharynx, esophagus, stomach and bowel. In this report, we describe an autopsy case of a COVID-19 patient who showed two undiagnosed ulcers at the level of the anterior and posterior walls of the hypopharynx. Molecular testing of viruses involved in pharyngeal ulcers demonstrated the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome - coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA, together with herpes simplex virus 1 DNA. Histopathologic analysis demonstrated full-thickness lympho-monocytic infiltration (mainly composed of CD68-positive cells), with hemorrhagic foci and necrosis of both the mucosal layer and deep skeletal muscle fibers. Fibrin and platelet microthrombi were also found. Cytological signs of HSV-1 induced damage were not found. Cells expressing SARS-CoV-2 spike subunit 1 were immunohistochemically identified in the inflammatory infiltrations. Immunohistochemistry for HSV1 showed general negativity for inflammatory infiltration, although in the presence of some positive cells. Thus, histopathological, immunohistochemical and molecular findings supported a direct role by SARS-CoV-2 in producing local ulcerative damage, although a possible contributory role by HSV-1 reactivation cannot be excluded. From a clinical perspective, this autopsy report of two undiagnosed lesions put the question if ulcers along the GI tract could be more common (but frequently neglected) in COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/complications , Hypopharynx/pathology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Ulcer/pathology , Aged , Antigens, CD/metabolism , Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic/metabolism , Autopsy , Blood Platelets/metabolism , Blood Platelets/pathology , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/physiopathology , Gastrointestinal Tract/pathology , Herpesvirus 1, Human/genetics , Herpesvirus 1, Human/isolation & purification , Humans , Hypopharynx/virology , Immunohistochemistry , Inflammation/immunology , Inflammation/metabolism , Inflammation/virology , Lymphocytes/metabolism , Monocytes/metabolism , Mucous Membrane/pathology , Muscle, Skeletal/pathology , Necrosis/pathology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Thrombosis/pathology , Ulcer/virology
7.
Viruses ; 13(3)2021 03 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1167750

ABSTRACT

Although antibody levels progressively decrease following SARS-CoV-2 infection, the immune memory persists for months. Thus, individuals who naturally contracted SARS-CoV-2 are expected to develop a more rapid and sustained response to COVID-19 vaccines than naïve individuals. In this study, we analyzed the dynamics of the antibody response to the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in six healthcare workers who contracted SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020, in comparison to nine control subjects without a previous infection. The vaccine was well tolerated by both groups, with no significant difference in the frequency of vaccine-associated side effects, with the exception of local pain, which was more common in previously infected subjects. Overall, the titers of neutralizing antibodies were markedly higher in response to the vaccine than after natural infection. In all subjects with pre-existing immunity, a rapid increase in anti-spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) IgG antibodies and neutralizing antibody titers was observed one week after the first dose, which seemed to act as a booster. Notably, in previously infected individuals, neutralizing antibody titers 7 days after the first vaccine dose were not significantly different from those observed in naïve subjects 7 days after the second vaccine dose. These results suggest that, in previously infected people, a single dose of the vaccine might be sufficient to induce an effective response.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , RNA, Messenger/immunology , RNA, Viral/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Antibody Formation , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19 Vaccines/genetics , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , RNA, Messenger/administration & dosage , RNA, Messenger/genetics , RNA, Viral/administration & dosage , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
8.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(5)2021 Feb 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1115421

ABSTRACT

In this Review, we briefly describe the basic virology and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2, highlighting how stem cell technology and organoids can contribute to the understanding of SARS-CoV-2 cell tropisms and the mechanism of disease in the human host, supporting and clarifying findings from clinical studies in infected individuals. We summarize here the results of studies, which used these technologies to investigate SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis in different organs. Studies with in vitro models of lung epithelia showed that alveolar epithelial type II cells, but not differentiated lung alveolar epithelial type I cells, are key targets of SARS-CoV-2, which triggers cell apoptosis and inflammation, while impairing surfactant production. Experiments with human small intestinal organoids and colonic organoids showed that the gastrointestinal tract is another relevant target for SARS-CoV-2. The virus can infect and replicate in enterocytes and cholangiocytes, inducing cell damage and inflammation. Direct viral damage was also demonstrated in in vitro models of human cardiomyocytes and choroid plexus epithelial cells. At variance, endothelial cells and neurons are poorly susceptible to viral infection, thus supporting the hypothesis that neurological symptoms and vascular damage result from the indirect effects of systemic inflammatory and immunological hyper-responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Organoids/virology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Stem Cells/virology , Animals , Apoptosis , COVID-19/virology , Cardiovascular System/cytology , Cardiovascular System/pathology , Cardiovascular System/virology , Central Nervous System/cytology , Central Nervous System/pathology , Central Nervous System/virology , Gastrointestinal Tract/cytology , Gastrointestinal Tract/pathology , Gastrointestinal Tract/virology , Humans , Inflammation/pathology , Inflammation/virology , Lung/cytology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Organoids/pathology , Stem Cells/pathology , Viral Tropism , Virus Internalization
9.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(1)2021 Jan 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1022025

ABSTRACT

A workflow for rapid SARS-CoV-2 epitope discovery on peptide microarrays is herein reported. The process started with a proteome-wide screening of immunoreactivity based on the use of a high-density microarray followed by a refinement and validation phase on a restricted panel of probes using microarrays with tailored peptide immobilization through a click-based strategy. Progressively larger, independent cohorts of Covid-19 positive sera were tested in the refinement processes, leading to the identification of immunodominant regions on SARS-CoV-2 spike (S), nucleocapsid (N) protein and Orf1ab polyprotein. A summary study testing 50 serum samples highlighted an epitope of the N protein (region 155-71) providing good diagnostic performance in discriminating Covid-19 positive vs. healthy individuals. Using this epitope, 92% sensitivity and 100% specificity were reached for IgG detection in Covid-19 samples, and no cross-reactivity with common cold coronaviruses was detected. Likewise, IgM immunoreactivity in samples collected within the first month after symptoms onset showed discrimination ability. Overall, epitope 155-171 from N protein represents a promising candidate for further development and rapid implementation in serological tests.

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