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Front Immunol ; 12: 654587, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1348485


Background: SARS-CoV-2 occurs in the majority of children as COVID-19, without symptoms or with a paucisymptomatic respiratory syndrome, but a small proportion of children develop the systemic Multi Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), characterized by persistent fever and systemic hyperinflammation, with some clinical features resembling Kawasaki Disease (KD). Objective: With this study we aimed to shed new light on the pathogenesis of these two SARS-CoV-2-related clinical manifestations. Methods: We investigated lymphocyte and dendritic cells subsets, chemokine/cytokine profiles and evaluated the neutrophil activity mediators, myeloperoxidase (MPO), and reactive oxygen species (ROS), in 10 children with COVID-19 and 9 with MIS-C at the time of hospital admission. Results: Patients with MIS-C showed higher plasma levels of C reactive protein (CRP), MPO, IL-6, and of the pro-inflammatory chemokines CXCL8 and CCL2 than COVID-19 children. In addition, they displayed higher levels of the chemokines CXCL9 and CXCL10, mainly induced by IFN-γ. By contrast, we detected IFN-α in plasma of children with COVID-19, but not in patients with MIS-C. This observation was consistent with the increase of ISG15 and IFIT1 mRNAs in cells of COVID-19 patients, while ISG15 and IFIT1 mRNA were detected in MIS-C at levels comparable to healthy controls. Moreover, quantification of the number of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which constitute the main source of IFN-α, showed profound depletion of this subset in MIS-C, but not in COVID-19. Conclusions: Our results show a pattern of immune response which is suggestive of type I interferon activation in COVID-19 children, probably related to a recent interaction with the virus, while in MIS-C the immune response is characterized by elevation of the inflammatory cytokines/chemokines IL-6, CCL2, and CXCL8 and of the chemokines CXCL9 and CXL10, which are markers of an active Th1 type immune response. We believe that these immunological events, together with neutrophil activation, might be crucial in inducing the multisystem and cardiovascular damage observed in MIS-C.

COVID-19/immunology , Chemokine CXCL10/immunology , Chemokine CXCL9/immunology , Dendritic Cells/immunology , Interferon-gamma/immunology , Plasma Cells/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome/immunology , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Humans , Infant , Male , Retrospective Studies
Viruses ; 13(6)2021 06 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1259622


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a highly transmissible RNA virus that is the causative agent of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Patients with severe COVID-19 may develop acute lung injury (ALI) or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and require mechanical ventilation. Key features of SARS-CoV-2 induced pulmonary complications include an overexpression of pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines that contribute to a 'cytokine storm.' In the current study an inflammatory state in Calu-3 human lung epithelial cells was characterized in which significantly elevated transcripts of the immunostimulatory chemokines CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 were present. Additionally, an increase in gene expression of the cytokines IL-6, TNFα, and IFN-γ was observed. The transcription of CXCL9, CXCL10, IL-6, and IFN-γ was also induced in the lungs of human transgenic angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) mice infected with SARS-CoV-2. To elucidate cell signaling pathways responsible for chemokine upregulation in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells, small molecule inhibitors targeting key signaling kinases were used. The induction of CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 gene expression in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection was markedly reduced by treatment with the AKT inhibitor GSK690693. Samples from COVID-19 positive individuals also displayed marked increases in CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 transcripts as well as transcripts in the AKT pathway. The current study elucidates potential pathway specific targets for reducing the induction of chemokines that may be contributing to SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis via hyperinflammation.

COVID-19/immunology , Chemokine CXCL10/genetics , Chemokine CXCL11/genetics , Chemokine CXCL9/genetics , Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt/metabolism , Up-Regulation , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Cell Line , Chemokine CXCL10/immunology , Chemokine CXCL11/immunology , Chemokine CXCL9/immunology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/genetics , Cytokine Release Syndrome/immunology , Epithelial Cells/immunology , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Humans , Inflammation , Lung/cytology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt/genetics , Signal Transduction/genetics , Signal Transduction/immunology
JCI Insight ; 6(1)2021 01 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1027164


Immune and inflammatory responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) contribute to disease severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, the utility of specific immune-based biomarkers to predict clinical outcome remains elusive. Here, we analyzed levels of 66 soluble biomarkers in 175 Italian patients with COVID-19 ranging from mild/moderate to critical severity and assessed type I IFN-, type II IFN-, and NF-κB-dependent whole-blood transcriptional signatures. A broad inflammatory signature was observed, implicating activation of various immune and nonhematopoietic cell subsets. Discordance between IFN-α2a protein and IFNA2 transcript levels in blood suggests that type I IFNs during COVID-19 may be primarily produced by tissue-resident cells. Multivariable analysis of patients' first samples revealed 12 biomarkers (CCL2, IL-15, soluble ST2 [sST2], NGAL, sTNFRSF1A, ferritin, IL-6, S100A9, MMP-9, IL-2, sVEGFR1, IL-10) that when increased were independently associated with mortality. Multivariate analyses of longitudinal biomarker trajectories identified 8 of the aforementioned biomarkers (IL-15, IL-2, NGAL, CCL2, MMP-9, sTNFRSF1A, sST2, IL-10) and 2 additional biomarkers (lactoferrin, CXCL9) that were substantially associated with mortality when increased, while IL-1α was associated with mortality when decreased. Among these, sST2, sTNFRSF1A, IL-10, and IL-15 were consistently higher throughout the hospitalization in patients who died versus those who recovered, suggesting that these biomarkers may provide an early warning of eventual disease outcome.

COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/mortality , Adrenal Cortex Hormones/therapeutic use , Adult , Aged , Anti-Bacterial Agents/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Azithromycin/therapeutic use , Biomarkers , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/therapy , Calgranulin B/genetics , Calgranulin B/immunology , Case-Control Studies , Chemokine CCL2/genetics , Chemokine CCL2/immunology , Chemokine CXCL9/genetics , Chemokine CXCL9/immunology , Enzyme Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Female , Ferritins/genetics , Ferritins/immunology , Gene Expression Profiling , Humans , Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use , Immunologic Factors/therapeutic use , Interferon Type I/genetics , Interferon Type I/immunology , Interferon-gamma/genetics , Interferon-gamma/immunology , Interleukin-1 Receptor-Like 1 Protein/genetics , Interleukin-1 Receptor-Like 1 Protein/immunology , Interleukin-10/genetics , Interleukin-10/immunology , Interleukin-15/genetics , Interleukin-15/immunology , Interleukin-2/genetics , Interleukin-2/immunology , Interleukin-6/genetics , Interleukin-6/immunology , Lactoferrin/genetics , Lactoferrin/immunology , Lipocalin-2/genetics , Lipocalin-2/immunology , Male , Matrix Metalloproteinase 9/genetics , Matrix Metalloproteinase 9/immunology , Middle Aged , Multivariate Analysis , NF-kappa B/genetics , NF-kappa B/immunology