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1.
Clin Immunol ; 237: 108991, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1866980

ABSTRACT

Many studies have been performed in severe COVID-19 on immune cells in the circulation and on cells obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage. Most studies have tended to provide relative information rather than a quantitative view, and it is a combination of approaches by various groups that is helping the field build a picture of the mechanisms that drive severe lung disease. Approaches employed to date have not revealed information on lung parenchymal T cell subsets in severe COVID-19. Therefore, we sought to examine early and late T cell subset alterations in the lungs and draining lymph nodes in severe COVID-19 using a rapid autopsy protocol and quantitative imaging approaches. Here, we have established that cytotoxic CD4+ T cells (CD4 + CTLs) increase in the lungs, draining lymph nodes and blood as COVID-19 progresses. CD4 + CTLs are prominently expanded in the lung parenchyma in severe COVID-19. In contrast CD8+ T cells are not prominent, exhibit increased PD-1 expression, and no obvious increase is seen in the number of Granzyme B+ CD8+ T cells in the lung parenchyma in severe COVID-19. Based on quantitative evidence for re-activation in the lung milieu, CD4 + CTLs may be as likely to drive viral clearance as CD8+ T cells and may also be contributors to lung inflammation and eventually to fibrosis in severe COVID-19.


Subject(s)
CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes , COVID-19 , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Humans , Lung , T-Lymphocyte Subsets , T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic
3.
Elife ; 112022 Mar 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1742931

ABSTRACT

Background: Risk of severe COVID-19 increases with age, is greater in males, and is associated with lymphopenia, but not with higher burden of SARS-CoV-2. It is unknown whether effects of age and sex on abundance of specific lymphoid subsets explain these correlations. Methods: Multiple regression was used to determine the relationship between abundance of specific blood lymphoid cell types, age, sex, requirement for hospitalization, duration of hospitalization, and elevation of blood markers of systemic inflammation, in adults hospitalized for severe COVID-19 (n = 40), treated for COVID-19 as outpatients (n = 51), and in uninfected controls (n = 86), as well as in children with COVID-19 (n = 19), recovering from COVID-19 (n = 14), MIS-C (n = 11), recovering from MIS-C (n = 7), and pediatric controls (n = 17). Results: This observational study found that the abundance of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) decreases more than 7-fold over the human lifespan - T cell subsets decrease less than 2-fold - and is lower in males than in females. After accounting for effects of age and sex, ILCs, but not T cells, were lower in adults hospitalized with COVID-19, independent of lymphopenia. Among SARS-CoV-2-infected adults, the abundance of ILCs, but not of T cells, correlated inversely with odds and duration of hospitalization, and with severity of inflammation. ILCs were also uniquely decreased in pediatric COVID-19 and the numbers of these cells did not recover during follow-up. In contrast, children with MIS-C had depletion of both ILCs and T cells, and both cell types increased during follow-up. In both pediatric COVID-19 and MIS-C, ILC abundance correlated inversely with inflammation. Blood ILC mRNA and phenotype tracked closely with ILCs from lung. Importantly, blood ILCs produced amphiregulin, a protein implicated in disease tolerance and tissue homeostasis. Among controls, the percentage of ILCs that produced amphiregulin was higher in females than in males, and people hospitalized with COVID-19 had a lower percentage of ILCs that produced amphiregulin than did controls. Conclusions: These results suggest that, by promoting disease tolerance, homeostatic ILCs decrease morbidity and mortality associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that lower ILC abundance contributes to increased COVID-19 severity with age and in males. Funding: This work was supported in part by the Massachusetts Consortium for Pathogen Readiness and NIH grants R37AI147868, R01AI148784, F30HD100110, 5K08HL143183.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Lymphopenia , Amphiregulin , COVID-19/complications , Child , Female , Humans , Immunity, Innate , Inflammation , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome , T-Lymphocyte Subsets
4.
Cell ; 185(6): 1041-1051.e6, 2022 03 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1703106

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) contains mutations that mediate escape from antibody responses, although the extent to which these substitutions in spike and non-spike proteins affect T cell recognition is unknown. In this study, we show that T cell responses in individuals with prior infection, vaccination, both prior infection and vaccination, and boosted vaccination are largely preserved to Omicron spike and non-spike proteins. However, we also identify a subset of individuals (∼21%) with a >50% reduction in T cell reactivity to the Omicron spike. Evaluation of functional CD4+ and CD8+ memory T cell responses confirmed these findings and revealed that reduced recognition to Omicron spike is primarily observed within the CD8+ T cell compartment potentially due to escape from HLA binding. Booster vaccination enhanced T cell responses to Omicron spike. In contrast to neutralizing immunity, these findings suggest preservation of T cell responses to the Omicron variant, although with reduced reactivity in some individuals.

5.
PubMed; 2020.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-292772

ABSTRACT

Humoral responses in COVID-19 disease are often of limited durability, as seen with other human coronavirus epidemics. To address the underlying etiology, we examined postmortem thoracic lymph nodes and spleens in acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and observed the absence of germinal centers, a striking reduction in Bcl-6+ germinal center B cells but preservation of AID+ B cells. Absence of germinal centers correlated with an early specific block in Bcl-6+TFH cell differentiation together with an increase in T-bet+TH1 cells and aberrant extra-follicular TNF-a accumulation. Parallel peripheral blood studies revealed loss of transitional and follicular B cells in severe disease and accumulation of SARS-CoV-2-specific "disease-related" B cell populations. These data identify defective Bcl-6+TFH cell generation and dysregulated humoral immune induction early in COVID-19 disease, providing a mechanistic explanation for the limited durability of antibody responses in coronavirus infections and suggest that achieving herd immunity through natural infection may be difficult. Funding: This work was supported by NIH U19 AI110495 to SP, NIH R01 AI146779 to AGS, NIH R01AI137057 and DP2DA042422 to DL, BMH was supported by NIGMS T32 GM007753, TMC was supported by T32 AI007245. Funding for these studies from the Massachusetts Consortium of Pathogen Readiness, the Mark and Lisa Schwartz Foundation and Enid Schwartz is also acknowledged. Conflict of Interest: None. Ethical Approval: This study was performed with the approval of the Institutional Review Boards at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

8.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(37)2021 09 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1373495

ABSTRACT

The hallmark of severe COVID-19 is an uncontrolled inflammatory response, resulting from poorly understood immunological dysfunction. We hypothesized that perturbations in FoxP3+ T regulatory cells (Treg), key enforcers of immune homeostasis, contribute to COVID-19 pathology. Cytometric and transcriptomic profiling revealed a distinct Treg phenotype in severe COVID-19 patients, with an increase in Treg proportions and intracellular levels of the lineage-defining transcription factor FoxP3, correlating with poor outcomes. These Tregs showed a distinct transcriptional signature, with overexpression of several suppressive effectors, but also proinflammatory molecules like interleukin (IL)-32, and a striking similarity to tumor-infiltrating Tregs that suppress antitumor responses. Most marked during acute severe disease, these traits persisted somewhat in convalescent patients. A screen for candidate agents revealed that IL-6 and IL-18 may individually contribute different facets of these COVID-19-linked perturbations. These results suggest that Tregs may play nefarious roles in COVID-19, by suppressing antiviral T cell responses during the severe phase of the disease, and by a direct proinflammatory role.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/etiology , T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory/physiology , Adult , Aged , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/virology , Female , Forkhead Transcription Factors/genetics , Forkhead Transcription Factors/metabolism , Gene Expression Profiling , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Inflammation/metabolism , Inflammation/virology , Interleukin-18/genetics , Interleukin-18/metabolism , Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit/genetics , Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit/metabolism , Interleukin-6/genetics , Interleukin-6/metabolism , Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating/physiology , Male , Middle Aged , Severity of Illness Index , T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory/immunology , T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory/virology , Transcription Factors/genetics , Transcription Factors/metabolism
9.
Cell ; 184(17): 4401-4413.e10, 2021 08 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1293638

ABSTRACT

The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants that escape convalescent and vaccine-induced antibody responses has renewed focus on the development of broadly protective T-cell-based vaccines. Here, we apply structure-based network analysis and assessments of HLA class I peptide stability to define mutationally constrained CD8+ T cell epitopes across the SARS-CoV-2 proteome. Highly networked residues are conserved temporally among circulating variants and sarbecoviruses and disproportionately impair spike pseudotyped lentivirus infectivity when mutated. Evaluation of HLA class I stabilizing activity for 18 globally prevalent alleles identifies CD8+ T cell epitopes within highly networked regions with limited mutational frequencies in circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and deep-sequenced primary isolates. Moreover, these epitopes elicit demonstrable CD8+ T cell reactivity in convalescent individuals but reduced recognition in recipients of mRNA-based vaccines. These data thereby elucidate key mutationally constrained regions and immunogenic epitopes in the SARS-CoV-2 proteome for a global T-cell-based vaccine against emerging variants and SARS-like coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/chemistry , HLA Antigens/immunology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
10.
JAMA Netw Open ; 3(12): e2030455, 2020 12 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-985883

ABSTRACT

Importance: Biological data are lacking with respect to risk of vertical transmission and mechanisms of fetoplacental protection in maternal severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Objective: To quantify SARS-CoV-2 viral load in maternal and neonatal biofluids, transplacental passage of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody, and incidence of fetoplacental infection. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study was conducted among pregnant women presenting for care at 3 tertiary care centers in Boston, Massachusetts. Women with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results positive for SARS-CoV-2 were recruited from April 2 to June 13, 2020, and follow-up occurred through July 10, 2020. Contemporaneous participants without SARS-CoV-2 infection were enrolled as a convenience sample from pregnant women with RT-PCR results negative for SARS-CoV-2. Exposures: SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy, defined by nasopharyngeal swab RT-PCR. Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcomes were SARS-CoV-2 viral load in maternal plasma or respiratory fluids and umbilical cord plasma, quantification of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in maternal and cord plasma, and presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the placenta. Results: Among 127 pregnant women enrolled, 64 with RT-PCR results positive for SARS-CoV-2 (mean [SD] age, 31.6 [5.6] years) and 63 with RT-PCR results negative for SARS-CoV-2 (mean [SD] age, 33.9 [5.4] years) provided samples for analysis. Of women with SARS-CoV-2 infection, 23 (36%) were asymptomatic, 22 (34%) had mild disease, 7 (11%) had moderate disease, 10 (16%) had severe disease, and 2 (3%) had critical disease. In viral load analyses among 107 women, there was no detectable viremia in maternal or cord blood and no evidence of vertical transmission. Among 77 neonates tested in whom SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were quantified in cord blood, 1 had detectable immunoglobuilin M to nucleocapsid. Among 88 placentas tested, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detected in any. In antibody analyses among 37 women with SARS-CoV-2 infection, anti-receptor binding domain immunoglobin G was detected in 24 women (65%) and anti-nucleocapsid was detected in 26 women (70%). Mother-to-neonate transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was significantly lower than transfer of anti-influenza hemagglutinin A antibodies (mean [SD] cord-to-maternal ratio: anti-receptor binding domain immunoglobin G, 0.72 [0.57]; anti-nucleocapsid, 0.74 [0.44]; anti-influenza, 1.44 [0.80]; P < .001). Nonoverlapping placental expression of SARS-CoV-2 receptors angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and transmembrane serine protease 2 was noted. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, there was no evidence of placental infection or definitive vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Transplacental transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was inefficient. Lack of viremia and reduced coexpression and colocalization of placental angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and transmembrane serine protease 2 may serve as protective mechanisms against vertical transmission.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Fetal Blood/immunology , Immunity, Maternally-Acquired/immunology , Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical/statistics & numerical data , Placenta/metabolism , Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Case-Control Studies , Cohort Studies , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Female , Fetal Blood/virology , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Immunoglobulin M/immunology , Infant, Newborn , Influenza A virus/immunology , Male , Phosphoproteins/immunology , Placenta/pathology , Placenta/virology , Pregnancy , Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/blood , Prospective Studies , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Receptors, Coronavirus/metabolism , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Severity of Illness Index , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Viral Load
11.
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 5493, 2020 10 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-894389

ABSTRACT

The relationship between SARS-CoV-2 viral load and risk of disease progression remains largely undefined in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Here, we quantify SARS-CoV-2 viral load from participants with a diverse range of COVID-19 disease severity, including those requiring hospitalization, outpatients with mild disease, and individuals with resolved infection. We detected SARS-CoV-2 plasma RNA in 27% of hospitalized participants, and 13% of outpatients diagnosed with COVID-19. Amongst the participants hospitalized with COVID-19, we report that a higher prevalence of detectable SARS-CoV-2 plasma viral load is associated with worse respiratory disease severity, lower absolute lymphocyte counts, and increased markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein and IL-6. SARS-CoV-2 viral loads, especially plasma viremia, are associated with increased risk of mortality. Our data show that SARS-CoV-2 viral loads may aid in the risk stratification of patients with COVID-19, and therefore its role in disease pathogenesis should be further explored.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/growth & development , Biomarkers/blood , C-Reactive Protein , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/blood , Coronavirus Infections/mortality , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Female , Hospitalization , Humans , Inflammation/blood , Inflammation/virology , Interleukin-6/blood , Longitudinal Studies , Massachusetts/epidemiology , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/blood , Pneumonia, Viral/mortality , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , RNA, Viral/blood , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index , Viral Load , Viremia/blood , Viremia/virology
12.
Science ; 370(6520)2020 11 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-809284

ABSTRACT

Understanding humoral responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is critical for improving diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Deep serological profiling of 232 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and 190 pre-COVID-19 era controls using VirScan revealed more than 800 epitopes in the SARS-CoV-2 proteome, including 10 epitopes likely recognized by neutralizing antibodies. Preexisting antibodies in controls recognized SARS-CoV-2 ORF1, whereas only COVID-19 patient antibodies primarily recognized spike protein and nucleoprotein. A machine learning model trained on VirScan data predicted SARS-CoV-2 exposure history with 99% sensitivity and 98% specificity; a rapid Luminex-based diagnostic was developed from the most discriminatory SARS-CoV-2 peptides. Individuals with more severe COVID-19 exhibited stronger and broader SARS-CoV-2 responses, weaker antibody responses to prior infections, and higher incidence of cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus 1, possibly influenced by demographic covariates. Among hospitalized patients, males produce stronger SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses than females.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Epitope Mapping , Epitopes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Severity of Illness Index , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibody Formation , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Cross Reactions , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/genetics , Female , Humans , Male , Protein Conformation , Seroconversion
14.
Cell ; 183(1): 143-157.e13, 2020 10 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-720447

ABSTRACT

Humoral responses in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are often of limited durability, as seen with other human coronavirus epidemics. To address the underlying etiology, we examined post mortem thoracic lymph nodes and spleens in acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and observed the absence of germinal centers and a striking reduction in Bcl-6+ germinal center B cells but preservation of AID+ B cells. Absence of germinal centers correlated with an early specific block in Bcl-6+ TFH cell differentiation together with an increase in T-bet+ TH1 cells and aberrant extra-follicular TNF-α accumulation. Parallel peripheral blood studies revealed loss of transitional and follicular B cells in severe disease and accumulation of SARS-CoV-2-specific "disease-related" B cell populations. These data identify defective Bcl-6+ TFH cell generation and dysregulated humoral immune induction early in COVID-19 disease, providing a mechanistic explanation for the limited durability of antibody responses in coronavirus infections, and suggest that achieving herd immunity through natural infection may be difficult.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Germinal Center/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer/immunology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , B-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19 , Female , Germinal Center/pathology , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6/genetics , Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6/metabolism , Spleen/immunology , Spleen/pathology , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/metabolism
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