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1.
Genome Res ; 32(2): 228-241, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1642462

ABSTRACT

The pathogenesis of COVID-19 is still elusive, which impedes disease progression prediction, differential diagnosis, and targeted therapy. Plasma cell-free RNAs (cfRNAs) carry unique information from human tissue and thus could point to resourceful solutions for pathogenesis and host-pathogen interactions. Here, we performed a comparative analysis of cfRNA profiles between COVID-19 patients and healthy donors using serial plasma. Analyses of the cfRNA landscape, potential gene regulatory mechanisms, dynamic changes in tRNA pools upon infection, and microbial communities were performed. A total of 380 cfRNA molecules were up-regulated in all COVID-19 patients, of which seven could serve as potential biomarkers (AUC > 0.85) with great sensitivity and specificity. Antiviral (NFKB1A, IFITM3, and IFI27) and neutrophil activation (S100A8, CD68, and CD63)-related genes exhibited decreased expression levels during treatment in COVID-19 patients, which is in accordance with the dynamically enhanced inflammatory response in COVID-19 patients. Noncoding RNAs, including some microRNAs (let 7 family) and long noncoding RNAs (GJA9-MYCBP) targeting interleukin (IL6/IL6R), were differentially expressed between COVID-19 patients and healthy donors, which accounts for the potential core mechanism of cytokine storm syndromes; the tRNA pools change significantly between the COVID-19 and healthy group, leading to the accumulation of SARS-CoV-2 biased codons, which facilitate SARS-CoV-2 replication. Finally, several pneumonia-related microorganisms were detected in the plasma of COVID-19 patients, raising the possibility of simultaneously monitoring immune response regulation and microbial communities using cfRNA analysis. This study fills the knowledge gap in the plasma cfRNA landscape of COVID-19 patients and offers insight into the potential mechanisms of cfRNAs to explain COVID-19 pathogenesis.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Cell-Free Nucleic Acids , RNA/blood , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/genetics , Cell-Free Nucleic Acids/blood , Cytokine Release Syndrome , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
3.
BMC Med Genomics ; 14(1): 155, 2021 06 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1266486

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: COVID-19 is a respiratory viral infection with unique features including a more chronic course and systemic disease manifestations including multiple organ involvement; and there are differences in disease severity between ethnic groups. The immunological basis for disease has not been fully characterised. Analysis of whole-blood RNA expression may provide valuable information on disease pathogenesis. METHODS: We studied 45 patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection within 10 days from onset of illness and a control group of 19 asymptomatic healthy volunteers with no known exposure to COVID-19 in the previous 14 days. Relevant demographic and clinical information was collected and a blood sample was drawn from all participants for whole-blood RNA sequencing. We evaluated differentially-expressed genes in COVID-19 patients (log2 fold change ≥ 1 versus healthy controls; false-discovery rate < 0.05) and associated protein pathways and compared these to published whole-blood signatures for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza. We developed a disease score reflecting the overall magnitude of expression of internally-validated genes and assessed the relationship between the disease score and clinical disease parameters. RESULTS: We found 135 differentially-expressed genes in the patients with COVID-19 (median age 35 years; 82% male; 36% Chinese, 53% South Asian ethnicity). Of the 117 induced genes, 14 were found in datasets from RSV and 40 from influenza; 95 genes were unique to COVID-19. Protein pathways were mostly generic responses to viral infections, including apoptosis by P53-associated pathway, but also included some unique pathways such as viral carcinogenesis. There were no major qualitative differences in pathways between ethnic groups. The composite gene-expression score was correlated with the time from onset of symptoms and nasal swab qPCR CT values (both p < 0.01) but was not related to participant age, gender, ethnicity or the presence or absence of chest X-ray abnormalities (all p > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The whole-blood transcriptome of COVID-19 has overall similarity with other respiratory infections but there are some unique pathways that merit further exploration to determine clinical relevance. The approach to a disease score may be of value, but needs further validation in a population with a greater range of disease severity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , RNA/blood , Transcriptome , Adult , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Carrier State/metabolism , Carrier State/pathology , Female , Gene Ontology , Humans , Male , RNA/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sequence Analysis, RNA , Up-Regulation
4.
Mediators Inflamm ; 2021: 6635925, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1175215

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was initially identified in China and currently worldwide dispersed, resulting in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Notably, COVID-19 is characterized by systemic inflammation. However, the potential mechanisms of the "cytokine storm" of COVID-19 are still limited. In this study, fourteen peripheral blood samples from COVID-19 patients (n = 10) and healthy donors (n = 4) were collected to perform the whole-transcriptome sequencing. Lung tissues of COVID-19 patients (70%) presenting with ground-glass opacity. Also, the leukocytes and lymphocytes were significantly decreased in COVID-19 compared with the control group (p < 0.05). In total, 25,482 differentially expressed messenger RNAs (DE mRNA), 23 differentially expressed microRNAs (DE miRNA), and 410 differentially expressed long noncoding RNAs (DE lncRNAs) were identified in the COVID-19 samples compared to the healthy controls. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis showed that the upregulated DE mRNAs were mainly involved in antigen processing and presentation of endogenous antigen, positive regulation of T cell mediated cytotoxicity, and positive regulation of gamma-delta T cell activation. The downregulated DE mRNAs were mainly concentrated in the glycogen biosynthetic process. We also established the protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks of up/downregulated DE mRNAs and identified 4 modules. Functional enrichment analyses indicated that these module targets were associated with positive regulation of cytokine production, cytokine-mediated signaling pathway, leukocyte differentiation, and migration. A total of 6 hub genes were selected in the PPI module networks including AKT1, TNFRSF1B, FCGR2A, CXCL8, STAT3, and TLR2. Moreover, a competing endogenous RNA network showed the interactions between lncRNAs, mRNAs, and miRNAs. Our results highlight the potential pathogenesis of excessive cytokine production such as MSTRG.119845.30/hsa-miR-20a-5p/TNFRSF1B, MSTRG.119845.30/hsa-miR-29b-2-5p/FCGR2A, and MSTRG.106112.2/hsa-miR-6501-5p/STAT3 axis, which may also play an important role in the development of ground-glass opacity in COVID-19 patients. This study gives new insights into inflammation regulatory mechanisms of coding and noncoding RNAs in COVID-19, which may provide novel diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic avenues for COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/genetics , RNA/blood , RNA/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/complications , Case-Control Studies , Cytokine Release Syndrome/blood , Cytokine Release Syndrome/etiology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/genetics , Cytokines/biosynthesis , Cytokines/genetics , Female , Gene Expression , Humans , Inflammation Mediators/blood , Male , MicroRNAs/blood , MicroRNAs/genetics , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Protein Interaction Maps/genetics , RNA, Long Noncoding/blood , RNA, Long Noncoding/genetics , RNA, Messenger/blood , RNA, Messenger/genetics , Sequence Analysis, RNA , Signal Transduction , Whole Exome Sequencing , Young Adult
6.
Genome Med ; 13(1): 7, 2021 01 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1027902

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is currently leading to increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients all over the world. Clinical presentations range from asymptomatic, mild respiratory tract infection, to severe cases with acute respiratory distress syndrome, respiratory failure, and death. Reports on a dysregulated immune system in the severe cases call for a better characterization and understanding of the changes in the immune system. METHODS: In order to dissect COVID-19-driven immune host responses, we performed RNA-seq of whole blood cell transcriptomes and granulocyte preparations from mild and severe COVID-19 patients and analyzed the data using a combination of conventional and data-driven co-expression analysis. Additionally, publicly available data was used to show the distinction from COVID-19 to other diseases. Reverse drug target prediction was used to identify known or novel drug candidates based on finding from data-driven findings. RESULTS: Here, we profiled whole blood transcriptomes of 39 COVID-19 patients and 10 control donors enabling a data-driven stratification based on molecular phenotype. Neutrophil activation-associated signatures were prominently enriched in severe patient groups, which was corroborated in whole blood transcriptomes from an independent second cohort of 30 as well as in granulocyte samples from a third cohort of 16 COVID-19 patients (44 samples). Comparison of COVID-19 blood transcriptomes with those of a collection of over 3100 samples derived from 12 different viral infections, inflammatory diseases, and independent control samples revealed highly specific transcriptome signatures for COVID-19. Further, stratified transcriptomes predicted patient subgroup-specific drug candidates targeting the dysregulated systemic immune response of the host. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides novel insights in the distinct molecular subgroups or phenotypes that are not simply explained by clinical parameters. We show that whole blood transcriptomes are extremely informative for COVID-19 since they capture granulocytes which are major drivers of disease severity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Neutrophils/metabolism , Transcriptome , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/virology , Case-Control Studies , Down-Regulation , Drug Repositioning , Humans , Neutrophils/cytology , Neutrophils/immunology , Phenotype , Principal Component Analysis , RNA/blood , RNA/chemistry , RNA/metabolism , Sequence Analysis, RNA , Severity of Illness Index , Up-Regulation
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