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Clin Infect Dis ; 73(11): e4154-e4165, 2021 12 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1559099


BACKGROUND: Children and older adults with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) display a distinct spectrum of disease severity yet the risk factors aren't well understood. We sought to examine the expression pattern of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the cell-entry receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and the role of lung progenitor cells in children and older patients. METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed clinical features in a cohort of 299 patients with COVID-19. The expression and distribution of ACE2 and lung progenitor cells were systematically examined using a combination of public single-cell RNA-seq data sets, lung biopsies, and ex vivo infection of lung tissues with SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus in children and older adults. We also followed up patients who had recovered from COVID-19. RESULTS: Compared with children, older patients (>50 years.) were more likely to develop into serious pneumonia with reduced lymphocytes and aberrant inflammatory response (P = .001). The expression level of ACE2 and lung progenitor cell markers were generally decreased in older patients. Notably, ACE2 positive cells were mainly distributed in the alveolar region, including SFTPC positive cells, but rarely in airway regions in the older adults (P < .01). The follow-up of discharged patients revealed a prolonged recovery from pneumonia in the older (P < .025). CONCLUSIONS: Compared to children, ACE2 positive cells are generally decreased in older adults and mainly presented in the lower pulmonary tract. The lung progenitor cells are also decreased. These risk factors may impact disease severity and recovery from pneumonia caused by SARS-Cov-2 infection in older patients.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , COVID-19 , Stem Cells , Aged , Child , Humans , Lung/cytology , Middle Aged , RNA-Seq , Retrospective Studies , Severity of Illness Index
Theranostics ; 11(5): 2170-2181, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1016389


Introduction: An increasing number of children with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is being reported, yet the spectrum of disease severity and expression patterns of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in children at different developmental stages are largely unknow. Methods: We analysed clinical features in a cohort of 173 children with COVID-19 (0-15 yrs.-old) between January 22, 2020 and March 15, 2020. We systematically examined the expression and distribution of ACE2 in different developmental stages of children by using a combination of children's lung biopsies, pluripotent stem cell-derived lung cells, RNA-sequencing profiles, and ex vivo SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviral infections. Results: It revealed that infants (< 1yrs.-old), with a weaker potency of immune response, are more vulnerable to develop pneumonia whereas older children (> 1 yrs.-old) are more resistant to lung injury. The expression levels of ACE2 however do not vary by age in children's lung. ACE2 is notably expressed not only in Alveolar Type II (AT II) cells, but also in SOX9 positive lung progenitor cells detected in both pluripotent stem cell derivatives and infants' lungs. The ACE2+SOX9+ cells are readily infected by SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus and the numbers of the double positive cells are significantly decreased in older children. Conclusions: Infants (< 1 yrs.-old) with SARS-CoV-2 infection are more vulnerable to lung injuries. ACE2 expression in multiple types of lung cells including SOX9 positive progenitor cells, in cooperation with an unestablished immune system, could be risk factors contributing to vulnerability of infants with COVID-19. There is a need to continue monitoring lung development in young children who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Lung/cytology , Stem Cells/metabolism , Adolescent , Biopsy , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Humans , Immune System , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Lung/virology , Male , RNA-Seq , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , SOX9 Transcription Factor/metabolism , Single-Cell Analysis , Stem Cells/virology