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EBioMedicine ; 77: 103878, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1693688


BACKGROUND: Prominent early features of COVID-19 include severe, often clinically silent, hypoxia and a pronounced reduction in B cells, the latter important in defence against SARS-CoV-2. This presentation resembles the phenotype of mice with VHL-deficient B cells, in which Hypoxia-Inducible Factors are constitutively active, suggesting hypoxia might drive B cell abnormalities in COVID-19. METHODS: Detailed B cell phenotyping was undertaken by flow-cytometry on longitudinal samples from patients with COVID-19 across a range of severities (NIHR Cambridge BioResource). The impact of hypoxia on the transcriptome was assessed by single-cell and whole blood RNA sequencing analysis. The direct effect of hypoxia on B cells was determined through immunisation studies in genetically modified and hypoxia-exposed mice. FINDINGS: We demonstrate the breadth of early and persistent defects in B cell subsets in moderate/severe COVID-19, including reduced marginal zone-like, memory and transitional B cells, changes also observed in B cell VHL-deficient mice. These findings were associated with hypoxia-related transcriptional changes in COVID-19 patient B cells, and similar B cell abnormalities were seen in mice kept in hypoxic conditions. INTERPRETATION: Hypoxia may contribute to the pronounced and persistent B cell pathology observed in acute COVID-19 pneumonia. Assessment of the impact of early oxygen therapy on these immune defects should be considered, as their correction could contribute to improved outcomes. FUNDING: Evelyn Trust, Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust, UKRI/NIHR, Wellcome Trust.

COVID-19 , Pneumonia , Animals , Humans , Hypoxia , Mice , Oxygen , SARS-CoV-2
Nat Med ; 27(5): 904-916, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1195620


Analysis of human blood immune cells provides insights into the coordinated response to viral infections such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We performed single-cell transcriptome, surface proteome and T and B lymphocyte antigen receptor analyses of over 780,000 peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a cross-sectional cohort of 130 patients with varying severities of COVID-19. We identified expansion of nonclassical monocytes expressing complement transcripts (CD16+C1QA/B/C+) that sequester platelets and were predicted to replenish the alveolar macrophage pool in COVID-19. Early, uncommitted CD34+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells were primed toward megakaryopoiesis, accompanied by expanded megakaryocyte-committed progenitors and increased platelet activation. Clonally expanded CD8+ T cells and an increased ratio of CD8+ effector T cells to effector memory T cells characterized severe disease, while circulating follicular helper T cells accompanied mild disease. We observed a relative loss of IgA2 in symptomatic disease despite an overall expansion of plasmablasts and plasma cells. Our study highlights the coordinated immune response that contributes to COVID-19 pathogenesis and reveals discrete cellular components that can be targeted for therapy.

COVID-19/immunology , Proteome , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Single-Cell Analysis/methods , Transcriptome , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Monocytes/immunology , Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell/immunology , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology