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Genet Med ; 24(8): 1653-1663, 2022 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1819495


PURPOSE: Emerging evidence suggest that infection-dependent hyperactivation of complement system (CS) may worsen COVID-19 outcome. We investigated the role of predicted high impact rare variants - referred as qualifying variants (QVs) - of CS genes in predisposing asymptomatic COVID-19 in elderly individuals, known to be more susceptible to severe disease. METHODS: Exploiting exome sequencing data and 56 CS genes, we performed a gene-based collapsing test between 164 asymptomatic subjects (aged ≥60 years) and 56,885 European individuals from the Genome Aggregation Database. We replicated this test comparing the same asymptomatic individuals with 147 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. RESULTS: We found an enrichment of QVs in 3 genes (MASP1, COLEC11, and COLEC10), which belong to the lectin pathway, in the asymptomatic cohort. Analyses of complement activity in serum showed decreased activity of lectin pathway in asymptomatic individuals with QVs. Finally, we found allelic variants associated with asymptomatic COVID-19 phenotype and with a decreased expression of MASP1, COLEC11, and COLEC10 in lung tissue. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that genetic rare variants can protect from severe COVID-19 by mitigating the activity of lectin pathway and prothrombin. The genetic data obtained through ES of 786 asymptomatic and 147 hospitalized individuals are publicly available at

COVID-19 , Aged , COVID-19/genetics , Collectins/genetics , Collectins/metabolism , Germ Cells , Humans , Lectins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Whole Exome Sequencing
Pharmacol Rev ; 73(2): 792-827, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1125571


The complement system was discovered at the end of the 19th century as a heat-labile plasma component that "complemented" the antibodies in killing microbes, hence the name "complement." Complement is also part of the innate immune system, protecting the host by recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns. However, complement is multifunctional far beyond infectious defense. It contributes to organ development, such as sculpting neuron synapses, promoting tissue regeneration and repair, and rapidly engaging and synergizing with a number of processes, including hemostasis leading to thromboinflammation. Complement is a double-edged sword. Although it usually protects the host, it may cause tissue damage when dysregulated or overactivated, such as in the systemic inflammatory reaction seen in trauma and sepsis and severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Damage-associated molecular patterns generated during ischemia-reperfusion injuries (myocardial infarction, stroke, and transplant dysfunction) and in chronic neurologic and rheumatic disease activate complement, thereby increasing damaging inflammation. Despite the long list of diseases with potential for ameliorating complement modulation, only a few rare diseases are approved for clinical treatment targeting complement. Those currently being efficiently treated include paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome, myasthenia gravis, and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders. Rare diseases, unfortunately, preclude robust clinical trials. The increasing evidence for complement as a pathogenetic driver in many more common diseases suggests an opportunity for future complement therapy, which, however, requires robust clinical trials; one ongoing example is COVID-19 disease. The current review aims to discuss complement in disease pathogenesis and discuss future pharmacological strategies to treat these diseases with complement-targeted therapies. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: The complement system is the host's defense friend by protecting it from invading pathogens, promoting tissue repair, and maintaining homeostasis. Complement is a double-edged sword, since when dysregulated or overactivated it becomes the host's enemy, leading to tissue damage, organ failure, and, in worst case, death. A number of acute and chronic diseases are candidates for pharmacological treatment to avoid complement-dependent damage, ranging from the well established treatment for rare diseases to possible future treatment of large patient groups like the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019.

COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/physiopathology , Complement System Proteins/physiology , Rare Diseases/physiopathology , Collectins/metabolism , Complement Activating Enzymes/metabolism , Complement C3/metabolism , Complement Inactivating Agents/pharmacology , Genetic Therapy/methods , Humans , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism , Lectins/metabolism , Mannose-Binding Protein-Associated Serine Proteases/metabolism , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Synapses/metabolism