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Clin Transl Immunology ; 10(4): e1271, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1525427


Objectives: Emerging evidence of dysregulation of the myeloid cell compartment urges investigations on neutrophil characteristics in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We isolated neutrophils from the blood of COVID-19 patients receiving general ward care and from patients hospitalised at intensive care units (ICUs) to explore the kinetics of circulating neutrophils and factors important for neutrophil migration and activation. Methods: Multicolour flow cytometry was exploited for the analysis of neutrophil differentiation and activation markers. Multiplex and ELISA technologies were used for the quantification of protease, protease inhibitor, chemokine and cytokine concentrations in plasma. Neutrophil polarisation responses were evaluated microscopically. Gelatinolytic and metalloproteinase activity in plasma was determined using a fluorogenic substrate. Co-culturing healthy donor neutrophils with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) allowed us to investigate viral replication in neutrophils. Results: Upon ICU admission, patients displayed high plasma concentrations of granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and the chemokine CXCL8, accompanied by emergency myelopoiesis as illustrated by high levels of circulating CD10-, immature neutrophils with reduced CXCR2 and C5aR expression. Neutrophil elastase and non-metalloproteinase-derived gelatinolytic activity were increased in plasma from ICU patients. Significantly higher levels of circulating tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) in patients at ICU admission yielded decreased total MMP proteolytic activity in blood. COVID-19 neutrophils were hyper-responsive to CXCL8 and CXCL12 in shape change assays. Finally, SARS-CoV-2 failed to replicate inside human neutrophils. Conclusion: Our study provides detailed insights into the kinetics of neutrophil phenotype and function in severe COVID-19 patients, and supports the concept of an increased neutrophil activation state in the circulation.

Nat Commun ; 12(1): 6243, 2021 10 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1493101


Understanding the pathology of COVID-19 is a global research priority. Early evidence suggests that the respiratory microbiome may be playing a role in disease progression, yet current studies report contradictory results. Here, we examine potential confounders in COVID-19 respiratory microbiome studies by analyzing the upper (n = 58) and lower (n = 35) respiratory tract microbiome in well-phenotyped COVID-19 patients and controls combining microbiome sequencing, viral load determination, and immunoprofiling. We find that time in the intensive care unit and type of oxygen support, as well as associated treatments such as antibiotic usage, explain the most variation within the upper respiratory tract microbiome, while SARS-CoV-2 viral load has a reduced impact. Specifically, mechanical ventilation is linked to altered community structure and significant shifts in oral taxa previously associated with COVID-19. Single-cell transcriptomics of the lower respiratory tract of COVID-19 patients identifies specific oral bacteria in physical association with proinflammatory immune cells, which show higher levels of inflammatory markers. Overall, our findings suggest confounders are driving contradictory results in current COVID-19 microbiome studies and careful attention needs to be paid to ICU stay and type of oxygen support, as bacteria favored in these conditions may contribute to the inflammatory phenotypes observed in severe COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19/microbiology , Gastrointestinal Microbiome/genetics , Gastrointestinal Microbiome/physiology , Humans , Microbiota/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Transcriptome/genetics
Cell Res ; 31(3): 272-290, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1039635


How the innate and adaptive host immune system miscommunicate to worsen COVID-19 immunopathology has not been fully elucidated. Here, we perform single-cell deep-immune profiling of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples from 5 patients with mild and 26 with critical COVID-19 in comparison to BALs from non-COVID-19 pneumonia and normal lung. We use pseudotime inference to build T-cell and monocyte-to-macrophage trajectories and model gene expression changes along them. In mild COVID-19, CD8+ resident-memory (TRM) and CD4+ T-helper-17 (TH17) cells undergo active (presumably antigen-driven) expansion towards the end of the trajectory, and are characterized by good effector functions, while in critical COVID-19 they remain more naïve. Vice versa, CD4+ T-cells with T-helper-1 characteristics (TH1-like) and CD8+ T-cells expressing exhaustion markers (TEX-like) are enriched halfway their trajectories in mild COVID-19, where they also exhibit good effector functions, while in critical COVID-19 they show evidence of inflammation-associated stress at the end of their trajectories. Monocyte-to-macrophage trajectories show that chronic hyperinflammatory monocytes are enriched in critical COVID-19, while alveolar macrophages, otherwise characterized by anti-inflammatory and antigen-presenting characteristics, are depleted. In critical COVID-19, monocytes contribute to an ATP-purinergic signaling-inflammasome footprint that could enable COVID-19 associated fibrosis and worsen disease-severity. Finally, viral RNA-tracking reveals infected lung epithelial cells, and a significant proportion of neutrophils and macrophages that are involved in viral clearance.

Adaptive Immunity , Bronchoalveolar Lavage , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/immunology , Immunity, Innate , Single-Cell Analysis , Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/cytology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/cytology , Cell Communication , Gene Expression Profiling , Humans , Lung/virology , Macrophages, Alveolar/cytology , Monocytes/cytology , Neutrophils/cytology , Phenotype , Principal Component Analysis , RNA-Seq , Th17 Cells/cytology
Clin Transl Immunology ; 9(11): e1204, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-932422


Objectives: The pandemic spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is due, in part, to the immunological properties of the host-virus interaction. The clinical presentation varies from individual to individual, with asymptomatic carriers, mild-to-moderate-presenting patients and severely affected patients. Variation in immune response to SARS-CoV-2 may underlie this clinical variation. Methods: Using a high-dimensional systems immunology platform, we have analysed the peripheral blood compartment of 6 healthy individuals, 23 mild-to-moderate and 20 severe COVID-19 patients. Results: We identify distinct immunological signatures in the peripheral blood of the mild-to-moderate and severe COVID-19 patients, including T-cell lymphopenia, more consistent with peripheral hypo- than hyper-immune activation. Unique to the severe COVID-19 cases was a large increase in the proportion of IL-10-secreting regulatory T cells, a lineage known to possess anti-inflammatory properties in the lung. Conclusion: As IL-10-secreting regulatory T cells are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties in the lung, their proportional increase could contribute to a more severe COVID-19 phenotype. We openly provide annotated data ( with clinical correlates as a systems immunology resource for the COVID-19 research community.