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1.
Hum Genet ; 141(1): 147-173, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1565371

ABSTRACT

The combined impact of common and rare exonic variants in COVID-19 host genetics is currently insufficiently understood. Here, common and rare variants from whole-exome sequencing data of about 4000 SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals were used to define an interpretable machine-learning model for predicting COVID-19 severity. First, variants were converted into separate sets of Boolean features, depending on the absence or the presence of variants in each gene. An ensemble of LASSO logistic regression models was used to identify the most informative Boolean features with respect to the genetic bases of severity. The Boolean features selected by these logistic models were combined into an Integrated PolyGenic Score that offers a synthetic and interpretable index for describing the contribution of host genetics in COVID-19 severity, as demonstrated through testing in several independent cohorts. Selected features belong to ultra-rare, rare, low-frequency, and common variants, including those in linkage disequilibrium with known GWAS loci. Noteworthily, around one quarter of the selected genes are sex-specific. Pathway analysis of the selected genes associated with COVID-19 severity reflected the multi-organ nature of the disease. The proposed model might provide useful information for developing diagnostics and therapeutics, while also being able to guide bedside disease management.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/physiopathology , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Phenotype , Severity of Illness Index , Whole Exome Sequencing , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Cohort Studies , Female , Germany , Humans , Italy , Male , Middle Aged , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , Quebec , SARS-CoV-2 , Sweden , United Kingdom
2.
J Pers Med ; 11(6)2021 Jun 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1270072

ABSTRACT

The clinical presentation of COVID-19 is extremely heterogeneous, ranging from asymptomatic to severely ill patients. Thus, host genetic factors may be involved in determining disease presentation and progression. Given that carriers of single cystic fibrosis (CF)-causing variants of the CFTR gene-CF-carriers-are more susceptible to respiratory tract infections, our aim was to determine their likelihood of undergoing severe COVID-19. We implemented a cohort study of 874 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, during the first pandemic wave in Italy. Whole exome sequencing was performed and validated CF-causing variants were identified. Forty subjects (16 females and 24 males) were found to be CF-carriers. Among mechanically ventilated patients, CF-carriers were more represented (8.7%) and they were significantly (p < 0.05) younger (mean age 51 years) compared to noncarriers (mean age 61.42 years). Furthermore, in the whole cohort, the age of male CF-carriers was lower, compared to noncarriers (p < 0.05). CF-carriers had a relative risk of presenting an abnormal inflammatory response (CRP ≥ 20 mg/dL) of 1.69 (p < 0.05) and their hazard ratio of death at day 14 was 3.10 (p < 0.05) in a multivariate regression model, adjusted for age, sex and comorbidities. In conclusion, CF-carriers are more susceptible to the severe form of COVID-19, showing also higher risk of 14-day death.

3.
EBioMedicine ; 65: 103246, 2021 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1108220

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: While SARS-CoV-2 similarly infects men and women, COVID-19 outcome is less favorable in men. Variability in COVID-19 severity may be explained by differences in the host genome. METHODS: We compared poly-amino acids variability from WES data in severely affected COVID-19 patients versus SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive oligo-asymptomatic subjects. FINDINGS: Shorter polyQ alleles (≤22) in the androgen receptor (AR) conferred protection against severe outcome in COVID-19 in the first tested cohort (both males and females) of 638 Italian subjects. The association between long polyQ alleles (≥23) and severe clinical outcome (p = 0.024) was also validated in an independent cohort of Spanish men <60 years of age (p = 0.014). Testosterone was higher in subjects with AR long-polyQ, possibly indicating receptor resistance (p = 0.042 Mann-Whitney U test). Inappropriately low serum testosterone level among carriers of the long-polyQ alleles (p = 0.0004 Mann-Whitney U test) predicted the need for intensive care in COVID-19 infected men. In agreement with the known anti-inflammatory action of testosterone, patients with long-polyQ and age ≥60 years had increased levels of CRP (p = 0.018, not accounting for multiple testing). INTERPRETATION: We identify the first genetic polymorphism that appears to predispose some men to develop more severe disease. Failure of the endocrine feedback to overcome AR signaling defects by increasing testosterone levels during the infection leads to the polyQ tract becoming dominant to serum testosterone levels for the clinical outcome. These results may contribute to designing reliable clinical and public health measures and provide a rationale to test testosterone as adjuvant therapy in men with COVID-19 expressing long AR polyQ repeats. FUNDING: MIUR project "Dipartimenti di Eccellenza 2018-2020" to Department of Medical Biotechnologies University of Siena, Italy (Italian D.L. n.18 March 17, 2020) and "Bando Ricerca COVID-19 Toscana" project to Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Senese. Private donors for COVID-19 research and charity funds from Intesa San Paolo.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Peptides/genetics , Receptors, Androgen/genetics , Aged , Case-Control Studies , Critical Care/statistics & numerical data , Female , Genome, Human/genetics , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide/genetics , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index , Spain , Testosterone/blood
4.
Eur J Hum Genet ; 29(5): 745-759, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1033853

ABSTRACT

Within the GEN-COVID Multicenter Study, biospecimens from more than 1000 SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals have thus far been collected in the GEN-COVID Biobank (GCB). Sample types include whole blood, plasma, serum, leukocytes, and DNA. The GCB links samples to detailed clinical data available in the GEN-COVID Patient Registry (GCPR). It includes hospitalized patients (74.25%), broken down into intubated, treated by CPAP-biPAP, treated with O2 supplementation, and without respiratory support (9.5%, 18.4%, 31.55% and 14.8, respectively); and non-hospitalized subjects (25.75%), either pauci- or asymptomatic. More than 150 clinical patient-level data fields have been collected and binarized for further statistics according to the organs/systems primarily affected by COVID-19: heart, liver, pancreas, kidney, chemosensors, innate or adaptive immunity, and clotting system. Hierarchical clustering analysis identified five main clinical categories: (1) severe multisystemic failure with either thromboembolic or pancreatic variant; (2) cytokine storm type, either severe with liver involvement or moderate; (3) moderate heart type, either with or without liver damage; (4) moderate multisystemic involvement, either with or without liver damage; (5) mild, either with or without hyposmia. GCB and GCPR are further linked to the GCGDR, which includes data from whole-exome sequencing and high-density SNP genotyping. The data are available for sharing through the Network for Italian Genomes, found within the COVID-19 dedicated section. The study objective is to systematize this comprehensive data collection and begin identifying multi-organ involvement in COVID-19, defining genetic parameters for infection susceptibility within the population, and mapping genetically COVID-19 severity and clinical complexity among patients.


Subject(s)
Biological Specimen Banks , COVID-19/genetics , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Registries , SARS-CoV-2 , Specimen Handling , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Italy , Male
5.
PLoS One ; 15(11): e0242534, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-934336

ABSTRACT

Clinical and molecular characterization by Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) is reported in 35 COVID-19 patients attending the University Hospital in Siena, Italy, from April 7 to May 7, 2020. Eighty percent of patients required respiratory assistance, half of them being on mechanical ventilation. Fiftyone percent had hepatic involvement and hyposmia was ascertained in 3 patients. Searching for common genes by collapsing methods against 150 WES of controls of the Italian population failed to give straightforward statistically significant results with the exception of two genes. This result is not unexpected since we are facing the most challenging common disorder triggered by environmental factors with a strong underlying heritability (50%). The lesson learned from Autism-Spectrum-Disorders prompted us to re-analyse the cohort treating each patient as an independent case, following a Mendelian-like model. We identified for each patient an average of 2.5 pathogenic mutations involved in virus infection susceptibility and pinpointing to one or more rare disorder(s). To our knowledge, this is the first report on WES and COVID-19. Our results suggest a combined model for COVID-19 susceptibility with a number of common susceptibility genes which represent the favorite background in which additional host private mutations may determine disease progression.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/therapy , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Whole Exome Sequencing , Aged , COVID-19/diagnosis , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prognosis
7.
Eur J Hum Genet ; 28(11): 1602-1614, 2020 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-650252

ABSTRACT

In December 2019, an initial cluster of interstitial bilateral pneumonia emerged in Wuhan, China. A human-to-human transmission was assumed and a previously unrecognized entity, termed coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) due to a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was described. The infection has rapidly spread out all over the world and Italy has been the first European country experiencing the endemic wave with unexpected clinical severity in comparison with Asian countries. It has been shown that SARS-CoV-2 utilizes angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as host receptor and host proteases for cell surface binding and internalization. Thus, a predisposing genetic background can give reason for interindividual disease susceptibility and/or severity. Taking advantage of the Network of Italian Genomes (NIG), here we mined whole-exome sequencing data of 6930 Italian control individuals from five different centers looking for ACE2 variants. A number of variants with a potential impact on protein stability were identified. Among these, three more common missense changes, p.(Asn720Asp), p.(Lys26Arg), and p.(Gly211Arg) were predicted to interfere with protein structure and stabilization. Rare variants likely interfering with the internalization process, namely p.(Leu351Val) and p.(Pro389His), predicted to interfere with SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding, were also observed. Comparison of ACE2 WES data between a cohort of 131 patients and 258 controls allowed identifying a statistically significant (P value < 0.029) higher allelic variability in controls compared with patients. These findings suggest that a predisposing genetic background may contribute to the observed interindividual clinical variability associated with COVID-19, allowing an evidence-based risk assessment leading to personalized preventive measures and therapeutic options.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/genetics , Aged , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Betacoronavirus/chemistry , COVID-19 , Cohort Studies , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Databases, Genetic , Female , Frameshift Mutation , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Humans , Italy/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Mutation, Missense , Pandemics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/chemistry , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Protein Stability , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Whole Exome Sequencing
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