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Clinical Cancer Research ; 27(6 SUPPL 1), 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1816919


Cancer patients display immunomodulation related to malignancy and anti-cancer therapies, but how these factors impact COVID-19 remains unknown. To investigate immune responses in cancer patients with COVID-19, we undertook a prospective case-control study, enrolling hospitalized solid tumor patients with acute COVID-19, as well as age-, gender-, and comorbidity-matched COVID-19 patients without cancer as controls. Using biospecimens collected during hospitalization, we performed virologic measurements as well as in-depth immunophenotyping of cellular, antibody and cytokine responses. We enrolled 17 cancer patients (cases) admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital between March 15 and June 30, 2020 with COVID-19, as well as 17 matched non-cancer patients (controls) admitted with COVID-19. No significant differences were observed between cases and controls based on patient characteristics (age, gender, race, co-morbidities, smoking history, days from symptom onset to COVID-19 diagnosis) or outcomes (COVID-19 severity, length of hospital stay, rate of intubation or mortality). The most common primary tumor sites were lung (4/17) and gastrointestinal (4/17);all cases had received cancer-directed therapy within 6 months of COVID-19 diagnosis, with 13/17 receiving treatment less than 1 month prior to hospitalization. Three of 17 cases had received immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies. Despite having similar SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA loads at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis when compared with controls, cancer cases had increased viral RNA abundance during hospitalization, suggesting slower clearance. Antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 were preserved in cancer cases, with cases displaying similar levels of IgM and IgG antibodies directed against SARS-CoV-2 epitopes compared to controls. Cytokine profiling revealed higher plasma levels of CCL3, IL1A and CXCL12 in cancer cases compared to controls. Using flow cytometric immunophenotyping, we found that innate immune and non-T cell adaptive immune parameters were similar between cases and controls hospitalized with COVID-19. However, among cancer cases on conventional therapies, T cell lymphopenia was more profound, and these cases demonstrated higher levels of CD8+ exhausted (CD8+CD45RA-PD1+TIM3+ ), CD8+GranzymeB+ and CD4+CD38+HLA-DR+ and CD8+CD38+HLA-DR+ activated T cells when compared with controls;interestingly, these differences were not observed in patients who had received immune checkpoint inhibition. Thus, we found reduced viral RNA clearance and specific alterations in T cell and cytokine responses in cancer patients hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with matched controls with COVID-19. This dysregulated T cell response in cancer patients, which may reflect immune modulation due to chronic antigen stimulation as well as cancer therapies, may lead to altered virologic and clinical outcomes in this population.

PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-330706


With the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants that may increase transmissibility and/or cause escape from immune responses 1-3 , there is an urgent need for the targeted surveillance of circulating lineages. It was found that the B.1.1.7 (also 501Y.V1) variant first detected in the UK 4,5 could be serendipitously detected by the ThermoFisher TaqPath COVID-19 PCR assay because a key deletion in these viruses, spike DELTA69-70, would cause a "spike gene target failure" (SGTF) result. However, a SGTF result is not definitive for B.1.1.7, and this assay cannot detect other variants of concern that lack spike DELTA69-70, such as B.1.351 (also 501Y.V2) detected in South Africa 6 and P.1 (also 501Y.V3) recently detected in Brazil 7 . We identified a deletion in the ORF1a gene (ORF1a DELTA3675-3677) in all three variants, which has not yet been widely detected in other SARS-CoV-2 lineages. Using ORF1a DELTA3675-3677 as the primary target and spike DELTA69-70 to differentiate, we designed and validated an open source PCR assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern 8 . Our assay can be rapidly deployed in laboratories around the world to enhance surveillance for the local emergence spread of B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1.