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1.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1589, 2022 03 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1764177

ABSTRACT

Progressive respiratory failure and hyperinflammatory response is the primary cause of death in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite mounting evidence of disruption of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in COVID-19, relatively little is known about the tropism of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to adrenal glands and associated changes. Here we demonstrate adrenal viral tropism and replication in COVID-19 patients. Adrenal glands showed inflammation accompanied by inflammatory cell death. Histopathologic analysis revealed widespread microthrombosis and severe adrenal injury. In addition, activation of the glycerophospholipid metabolism and reduction of cortisone intensities were characteristic for COVID-19 specimens. In conclusion, our autopsy series suggests that SARS-CoV-2 facilitates the induction of adrenalitis. Given the central role of adrenal glands in immunoregulation and taking into account the significant adrenal injury observed, monitoring of developing adrenal insufficiency might be essential in acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and during recovery.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Autopsy , Humans , Research , SARS-CoV-2 , Tropism
2.
Med Microbiol Immunol ; 2022 Feb 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1702741

ABSTRACT

Since autumn 2020, rapid antigen tests (RATs) have been implemented in several countries as an important pillar of the national testing strategy to rapidly screen for infections on site during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The current surge in infection rates around the globe is driven by the variant of concern (VoC) omicron (B.1.1.529). Here, we evaluated the performance of nine SARS-CoV-2 RATs in a single-centre laboratory study. We examined a total of 115 SARS-CoV-2 PCR-negative and 166 SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive respiratory swab samples (101 omicron, 65 delta (B.1.617.2)) collected from October 2021 until January 2022 as well as cell culture-expanded clinical isolates of both VoCs. In an assessment of the analytical sensitivity in clinical specimen, the 50% limit of detection (LoD50) ranged from 1.77 × 106 to 7.03 × 107 RNA copies subjected to the RAT for omicron compared to 1.32 × 105 to 2.05 × 106 for delta. To score positive in these point-of-care tests, up to 10-fold (LoD50) or 101-fold (LoD95) higher virus loads were required for omicron- compared to delta-containing samples. The rates of true positive test results for omicron samples in the highest virus load category (Ct values < 25) ranged between 31.4 and 77.8%, while they dropped to 0-8.3% for samples with intermediate Ct values (25-30). Of note, testing of expanded virus stocks suggested a comparable RAT sensitivity of both VoCs, questioning the predictive value of this type of in vitro-studies for clinical performance. Given their importance for national test strategies in the current omicron wave, awareness must be increased for the reduced detection rate of omicron infections by RATs and a short list of suitable RATs that fulfill the minimal requirements of performance should be rapidly disclosed.

3.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-322329

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 enters host cells after binding through its spike glycoprotein to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Soluble ACE2 ectodomains bind and neutralize the virus, yet their short in vivo half-live limits their therapeutic use. This limitation can be overcome by fusing the fragment crystallizable (Fc) part of human immunoglobulin G (IgG) to the ACE2 ectodomain, but this bears the risk of unwanted Fc-receptor activation and antibody-dependent disease enhancement. Here, we describe optimized ACE2-IgG4-Fc fusion constructs that avoid Fc-receptor activation, preserve the desired ACE-2 enzymatic activity and show promising pharmaceutical properties. The engineered ACE2-IgG4-Fc fusion proteins neutralize the original SARS-CoV, pandemic SARS-CoV-2 as well as the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2 variants-of-concern, B.1.17 and B.1.351. Importantly, these variants-of-concern are inhibited at picomolar concentrations proving that ACE-2-IgG4 maintains – in contrast to therapeutic antibodies - its full antiviral potential. Thus, ACE2-IgG4-Fc fusion proteins are promising candidate anti-antivirals to combat the current and future pandemics.

4.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327274

ABSTRACT

Background After admission to hospital, COVID-19 progresses in a substantial proportion of patients to critical disease that requires intensive care unit (ICU) admission. Methods In a pragmatic, non-blinded trial, 387 patients aged 40-90 years were randomised to receive treatment with SoC plus doxycycline (n=192) or SoC only (n=195). The primary outcome was the need for ICU admission as judged by the attending physicians. Three types of analyses were carried out for the primary outcome: “Intention to treat” (ITT) based on randomisation;“Per protocol” (PP), excluding patients not treated according to randomisation;and “As treated” (AT), based on actual treatment received. The trial was undertaken in six hospitals in India with high-quality ICU facilities. An online application serving as the electronic case report form was developed to enable screening, randomisation and collection of outcomes data. Results Adherence to treatment per protocol was 95.1%. Among all 387 participants, 77 (19.9%) developed critical disease needing ICU admission. In all three primary outcome analyses, doxycycline was associated with a relative risk reduction (RRR) and absolute risk reduction (ARR): ITT 31.6% RRR, 7.4% ARR (P=0.063);PP 40.7% RRR, 9.6% ARR (P=0.017);AT 43.2% RRR, 10.8% ARR (P=0.007), with numbers needed to treat (NTT) of 13.4 (ITT), 10.4 (PP), and 9.3 (AT), respectively. Doxycycline was well tolerated with not a single patient stopping treatment due to adverse events. Conclusions In hospitalized COVID-19 patients, doxycycline, a safe, inexpensive, and widely available antibiotic with anti-inflammatory properties, reduces the need for ICU admission when added to SoC.

5.
Nat Med ; 28(3): 496-503, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1655606

ABSTRACT

Infection-neutralizing antibody responses after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection or coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination are an essential component of antiviral immunity. Antibody-mediated protection is challenged by the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VoCs) with immune escape properties, such as omicron (B.1.1.529), which is rapidly spreading worldwide. Here we report neutralizing antibody dynamics in a longitudinal cohort of coronavirus disease 2019 convalescent and infection-naive individuals vaccinated with mRNA BNT162b2 by quantifying SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibodies and determining their avidity and neutralization capacity in serum. Using live-virus neutralization assays, we show that a superior infection-neutralizing capacity against all VoCs, including omicron, developed after either two vaccinations in convalescents or a third vaccination or breakthrough infection of twice-vaccinated, naive individuals. These three consecutive spike antigen exposures resulted in an increasing neutralization capacity per anti-spike antibody unit and were paralleled by stepwise increases in antibody avidity. We conclude that an infection-plus-vaccination-induced hybrid immunity or a triple immunization can induce high-quality antibodies with superior neutralization capacity against VoCs, including omicron.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vaccination
6.
Cell Rep ; 38(7): 110387, 2022 02 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1654154

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) display enhanced transmissibility and resistance to antibody neutralization. Comparing the early 2020 isolate EU-1 to the VOCs Alpha, Beta, and Gamma in mice transgenic for human ACE2 reveals that VOCs induce a broadened scope of symptoms, expand systemic infection to the gastrointestinal tract, elicit the depletion of natural killer cells, and trigger variant-specific cytokine production patterns. Gamma infections result in accelerated disease progression associated with increased immune activation and inflammation. All four SARS-CoV-2 variants induce pDC depletion in the lungs, paralleled by reduced interferon responses. Remarkably, VOCs also use the murine ACE2 receptor for infection to replicate in the lungs of wild-type animals, which induce cellular and innate immune responses that apparently curtail the spread of overt disease. VOCs thus display distinct intrinsic pathogenic properties with broadened tissue and host range. The enhanced pathogenicity of VOCs and their potential for reverse zoonotic transmission pose challenges to clinical and pandemic management.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Disease Models, Animal , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Animals , COVID-19/immunology , Cytokines/metabolism , Host Specificity , Immunity, Cellular , Immunity, Innate , Lung/immunology , Lung/virology , Mice , Species Specificity , Viral Load , Viral Tropism , Virulence , Virus Replication
7.
iScience ; 25(1): 103659, 2022 Jan 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1587464

ABSTRACT

Although some COVID-19 patients maintain SARS-CoV-2-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) for more than 6 months postinfection, others eventually lose IgG levels. We assessed the persistence of SARS-CoV-2-specific B cells in 17 patients, 5 of whom had lost specific IgGs after 5-8 months. Differentiation of blood-derived B cells in vitro revealed persistent SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG B cells in all patients, whereas IgA B cells were maintained in 11. Antibodies derived from cultured B cells blocked binding of viral receptor-binding domain (RBD) to the cellular receptor ACE-2, had neutralizing activity to authentic virus, and recognized the RBD of the variant of concern Alpha similarly to the wild type, whereas reactivity to Beta and Gamma were decreased. Thus, differentiation of memory B cells could be more sensitive for detecting previous infection than measuring serum antibodies. Understanding the persistence of SARS-CoV-2-specific B cells even in the absence of specific serum IgG will help to promote long-term immunity.

8.
Antiviral Res ; 196: 105197, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1509565

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 enters host cells after binding through its spike glycoprotein to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Soluble ACE2 ectodomains bind and neutralize the virus, yet their short in vivo half-live limits their therapeutic use. This limitation can be overcome by fusing the fragment crystallizable (Fc) part of human immunoglobulin G (IgG) to the ACE2 ectodomain, but this bears the risk of Fc-receptor activation and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Here, we describe optimized ACE2-IgG4-Fc fusion constructs that avoid Fc-receptor activation, preserve the desired ACE2 enzymatic activity and show promising pharmaceutical properties. The engineered ACE2-IgG4-Fc fusion proteins neutralize the original SARS-CoV, pandemic SARS-CoV-2 as well as the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2 alpha, beta and delta variants of concern. Importantly, these variants of concern are inhibited at picomolar concentrations proving that ACE2-IgG4 maintains - in contrast to therapeutic antibodies - its full antiviral potential. Thus, ACE2-IgG4-Fc fusion proteins are promising candidate anti-antivirals to combat the current and future pandemics.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Antiviral Agents/chemical synthesis , COVID-19/drug therapy , Immunoglobulin G , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Humans , Protein Binding , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects
9.
Med Microbiol Immunol ; 210(5-6): 263-275, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1366361

ABSTRACT

A versatile portfolio of diagnostic tests is essential for the containment of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Besides nucleic acid-based test systems and point-of-care (POCT) antigen (Ag) tests, quantitative, laboratory-based nucleocapsid Ag tests for SARS-CoV-2 have recently been launched. Here, we evaluated four commercial Ag tests on automated platforms and one POCT to detect SARS-CoV-2. We evaluated PCR-positive (n = 107) and PCR-negative (n = 303) respiratory swabs from asymptomatic and symptomatic patients at the end of the second pandemic wave in Germany (February-March 2021) as well as clinical isolates EU1 (B.1.117), variant of concern (VOC) Alpha (B.1.1.7) or Beta (B.1.351), which had been expanded in a biosafety level 3 laboratory. The specificities of automated SARS-CoV-2 Ag tests ranged between 97.0 and 99.7% (Lumipulse G SARS-CoV-2 Ag (Fujirebio): 97.03%, Elecsys SARS-CoV-2 Ag (Roche Diagnostics): 97.69%; LIAISON® SARS-CoV-2 Ag (Diasorin) and SARS-CoV-2 Ag ELISA (Euroimmun): 99.67%). In this study cohort of hospitalized patients, the clinical sensitivities of tests were low, ranging from 17.76 to 52.34%, and analytical sensitivities ranged from 420,000 to 25,000,000 Geq/ml. In comparison, the detection limit of the Roche Rapid Ag Test (RAT) was 9,300,000 Geq/ml, detecting 23.58% of respiratory samples. Receiver-operating-characteristics (ROCs) and Youden's index analyses were performed to further characterize the assays' overall performance and determine optimal assay cutoffs for sensitivity and specificity. VOCs carrying up to four amino acid mutations in nucleocapsid were detected by all five assays with characteristics comparable to non-VOCs. In summary, automated, quantitative SARS-CoV-2 Ag tests show variable performance and are not necessarily superior to a standard POCT. The efficacy of any alternative testing strategies to complement nucleic acid-based assays must be carefully evaluated by independent laboratories prior to widespread implementation.


Subject(s)
Antigens, Viral/analysis , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Antigens, Viral/immunology , Automation/economics , Automation/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Serological Testing/economics , Cohort Studies , False Negative Reactions , Germany , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Sensitivity and Specificity
10.
Infection ; 50(2): 381-394, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1351389

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: To determine risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in healthcare workers (HCWs), characterize symptoms, and evaluate preventive measures against SARS-CoV-2 spread in hospitals. METHODS: In a cross-sectional study conducted between May 27 and August 12, 2020, after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we obtained serological, epidemiological, occupational as well as COVID-19-related data at a quaternary care, multicenter hospital in Munich, Germany. RESULTS: 7554 HCWs participated, 2.2% of whom tested positive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Multivariate analysis revealed increased COVID-19 risk for nurses (3.1% seropositivity, 95% CI 2.5-3.9%, p = 0.012), staff working on COVID-19 units (4.6% seropositivity, 95% CI 3.2-6.5%, p = 0.032), males (2.4% seropositivity, 95% CI 1.8-3.2%, p = 0.019), and HCWs reporting high-risk exposures to infected patients (5.5% seropositivity, 95% CI 4.0-7.5%, p = 0.0022) or outside of work (12.0% seropositivity, 95% CI 8.0-17.4%, p < 0.0001). Smoking was a protective factor (1.1% seropositivity, 95% CI 0.7-1.8% p = 0.00018) and the symptom taste disorder was strongly associated with COVID-19 (29.8% seropositivity, 95% CI 24.3-35.8%, p < 0.0001). An unbiased decision tree identified subgroups with different risk profiles. Working from home as a preventive measure did not protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection. A PCR-testing strategy focused on symptoms and high-risk exposures detected all larger COVID-19 outbreaks. CONCLUSION: Awareness of the identified COVID-19 risk factors and successful surveillance strategies are key to protecting HCWs against SARS-CoV-2, especially in settings with limited vaccination capacities or reduced vaccine efficacy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Health Personnel , Humans , Male , Pandemics/prevention & control , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2
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