Heightened Innate Immune Responses in the Respiratory Tract of COVID-19 Patients.
ABSTRACT: The outbreaks of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection have posed a severe threat to global public health. It is unclear how the human immune system responds to this infection. Here, we used metatranscriptomic sequencing to profile immune signatures in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of eight COVID-19 cases. The expression of proinflammatory genes, especially chemokines, was markedly elevated in COVID-19 cases compared to community-acquired pneumonia patients and healthy controls, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 infection causes hypercytokinemia. Compared to SARS-CoV, which is thought to induce inadequate interferon (IFN) responses, SARS-CoV-2 robustly triggered expression of numerous IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). These ISGs exhibit immunopathogenic potential, with overrepresentation of genes involved in inflammation. The transcriptome data was also used to estimate immune cell populations, revealing increases in activated dendritic cells and neutrophils. Collectively, these host responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection could further our understanding of disease pathogenesis and point toward antiviral strategies.
Project description:The current pandemic of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by a novel virus strain, 2019-nCoV/SARS-CoV-2 have posed a serious threat to global public health and economy. It is largely unknown how the human immune system responds to this infection. A better understanding of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 will be important to develop therapeutics against COVID-19. Here, we have used transcriptomic profile of human alveolar adenocarcinoma cells (A549) infected with SARS-CoV-2 and employed a network biology approach to generate human-virus interactome. Network topological analysis discovers 15 SARS-CoV-2 targets, which belongs to a subset of interferon (IFN) stimulated genes (ISGs). These ISGs (IFIT1, IFITM1, IRF7, ISG15, MX1, and OAS2) can be considered as potential candidates for drug targets in the treatments of COVID-19. We have identified significant interaction between ISGs and TLR3 agonists, like poly I: C, and imiquimod, and suggests that TLR3 agonists can be considered as a potential drug for drug repurposing in COVID-19. Our network centric analysis suggests that moderating the innate immune response is a valuable approach to target COVID-19.
Project description:Effective therapeutics aimed at mitigating COVID-19 symptoms are urgently needed. SARS-CoV-2 induced hypercytokinemia and systemic inflammation are associated with disease severity. Baricitinib, a clinically approved JAK1/2 inhibitor with potent anti-inflammatory properties is currently being investigated in COVID-19 human clinical trials. Recent reports suggest that baricitinib may also have antiviral activity in limiting viral endocytosis. Here, we investigated the immunologic and virologic efficacy of baricitinib in a rhesus macaque model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Viral shedding measured from nasal and throat swabs, bronchoalveolar lavages and tissues was not reduced with baricitinib. Type I IFN antiviral responses and SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell responses remained similar between the two groups. Importantly, however, animals treated with baricitinib showed reduced immune activation, decreased infiltration of neutrophils into the lung, reduced NETosis activity, and more limited lung pathology. Moreover, baricitinib treated animals had a rapid and remarkably potent suppression of alveolar macrophage derived production of cytokines and chemokines responsible for inflammation and neutrophil recruitment. These data support a beneficial role for, and elucidate the immunological mechanisms underlying, the use of baricitinib as a frontline treatment for severe inflammation induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is a recently emerged respiratory coronavirus that has infected >23 million people worldwide with >800,000 deaths. Few COVID-19 therapeutics are available, and the basis for severe infections is poorly understood. Here, we investigated properties of type I (?), II (?), and III (?1) interferons (IFNs), potent immune cytokines that are normally produced during infection and that upregulate IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) effectors to limit virus replication. IFNs are already in clinical trials to treat COVID-19. However, recent studies highlight the potential for IFNs to enhance expression of host angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), suggesting that IFN therapy or natural coinfections could exacerbate COVID-19 by upregulating this critical virus entry receptor. Using a cell line model, we found that beta interferon (IFN-?) strongly upregulated expression of canonical antiviral ISGs, as well as ACE2 at the mRNA and cell surface protein levels. Strikingly, IFN-?1 upregulated antiviral ISGs, but ACE2 mRNA was only marginally elevated and did not lead to detectably increased ACE2 protein at the cell surface. IFN-? induced the weakest ISG response but clearly enhanced surface expression of ACE2. Importantly, all IFN types inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in a dose-dependent manner, and IFN-? and IFN-?1 exhibited potent antiviral activity in primary human bronchial epithelial cells. Our data imply that type-specific mechanisms or kinetics shape IFN-enhanced ACE2 transcript and cell surface levels but that the antiviral action of IFNs against SARS-CoV-2 counterbalances any proviral effects of ACE2 induction. These insights should aid in evaluating the benefits of specific IFNs, particularly IFN-?, as repurposed therapeutics.IMPORTANCE Repurposing existing, clinically approved, antiviral drugs as COVID-19 therapeutics is a rapid way to help combat the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Interferons (IFNs) usually form part of the body's natural innate immune defenses against viruses, and they have been used with partial success to treat previous new viral threats, such as HIV, hepatitis C virus, and Ebola virus. Nevertheless, IFNs can have undesirable side effects, and recent reports indicate that IFNs upregulate the expression of host ACE2 (a critical entry receptor for SARS-CoV-2), raising the possibility that IFN treatments could exacerbate COVID-19. Here, we studied the antiviral- and ACE2-inducing properties of different IFN types in both a human lung cell line model and primary human bronchial epithelial cells. We observed differences between IFNs with respect to their induction of antiviral genes and abilities to enhance the cell surface expression of ACE2. Nevertheless, all the IFNs limited SARS-CoV-2 replication, suggesting that their antiviral actions can counterbalance increased ACE2.
Project description:The critical role of the innate immune system has been confirmed in driving local and systemic inflammation and the cytokine release storm in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This dysregulated immune response is focused on interferon (IFN) and complement activation, which are crucial for the development of metabolic inflammation, local lung tissue damage, and systemic multi-organ failure. IFNs control viral infections by inducing expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) that restrict distinct steps of viral replication. Therefore, in this review article, we propose the mechanism of SARS-CoV-2-associated acute respiratory disease syndrome, and assess treatment options by considering IFNs and by targeting IFN-antagonist SARS-CoV-2 virulent gene products. Furthermore, we elaborate on the mechanism of the amplified complement-mediated inflammatory cytokine storm, and propose an antiviral and immunotherapeutic strategy against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Project description:The novel virus SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 14 million people worldwide resulting in the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Limited information on the underlying immune mechanisms that drive disease or protection during COVID-19 severely hamper development of therapeutics and vaccines. Thus, the establishment of relevant animal models that mimic the pathobiology of the disease is urgent. Rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2 exhibit disease pathobiology similar to human COVID-19, thus serving as a relevant animal model. In the current study, we have characterized the transcriptional signatures induced in the lungs of juvenile and old rhesus macaques following SARS-CoV-2 infection. We show that genes associated with Interferon (IFN) signaling, neutrophil degranulation and innate immune pathways are significantly induced in macaque infected lungs, while pathways associated with collagen formation are downregulated. In COVID-19, increasing age is a significant risk factor for poor prognosis and increased mortality. We demonstrate that Type I IFN and Notch signaling pathways are significantly upregulated in lungs of juvenile infected macaques when compared with old infected macaques. These results are corroborated with increased peripheral neutrophil counts and neutrophil lymphocyte ratio in older individuals with COVID-19 disease. In contrast, pathways involving VEGF are downregulated in lungs of old infected macaques. Using samples from humans with SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19, we validate a subset of our findings. Finally, neutrophil degranulation, innate immune system and IFN gamma signaling pathways are upregulated in both tuberculosis and COVID-19, two pulmonary diseases where neutrophils are associated with increased severity. Together, our transcriptomic studies have delineated disease pathways to improve our understanding of the immunopathogenesis of COVID-19 to facilitate the design of new therapeutics for COVID-19.
2020-01-01 | S-EPMC7418717 | BioStudies
Project description:Respiratory infections, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, target epithelial cells in the respiratory tract. Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are tissue-resident macrophages located within the lung. They play a key role in the early phases of an immune response to respiratory viruses. AMs are likely the first immune cells to encounter SARS-CoV-2 during an infection and their reaction to the virus will have a profound impact on the outcome of the infection. Interferons (IFNs) are antiviral cytokines and among the first cytokines produced upon viral infection. In this study, AMs from non-infectious donors are challenged with SARS-CoV-2. We demonstrate that challenged AMs are incapable of sensing SARS-CoV-2 and of producing an IFN response in contrast to other respiratory viruses, like influenza A virus and Sendai virus, which trigger a robust IFN response. The absence of IFN production in AMs upon challenge with SARS-CoV2 could explain the initial asymptotic phase observed during COVID-19 and argues against AMs being the sources of proinflammatory cytokines later during infection.
Project description:Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by SARS-CoV-2 and has spread across the globe. SARS-CoV-2 is a highly infectious virus with no vaccine or antiviral therapy available to control the pandemic; therefore, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and the host immune responses to SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 is a new member of the betacoronavirus genus like other closely related viruses including SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV have caused serious outbreaks and epidemics in the past eighteen years. Here, we report that one of the interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (CH25H), is induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro and in COVID-19-infected patients. CH25H converts cholesterol to 25-hydrocholesterol (25HC) and 25HC shows broad anti-coronavirus activity by blocking membrane fusion. Furthermore, 25HC inhibits USA-WA1/2020 SARS-CoV-2 infection in lung epithelial cells and viral entry in human lung organoids. Mechanistically, 25HC inhibits viral membrane fusion by activating the ER-localized acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) which leads to the depletion of accessible cholesterol from the plasma membrane. Altogether, our results shed light on a potentially broad antiviral mechanism by 25HC through depleting accessible cholesterol on the plasma membrane to suppress virus-cell fusion. Since 25HC is a natural product with no known toxicity at effective concentrations, it provides a potential therapeutic candidate for COVID-19 and emerging viral diseases in the future.
Project description:The novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 originates in the lungs, but it may extend to other organs, causing, in severe cases, multiorgan damage, including cardiac injury and acute kidney injury. In severe cases, the presence of kidney injury is associated with increased risk of death, highlighting the relevance of this organ as a target of SARS-CoV-2 infection. COVID-19-associated tissue injury is not primarily mediated by viral infection, but rather is a result of the inflammatory host immune response, which drives hypercytokinemia and aggressive inflammation that affect lung parenchymal cells, diminishing oxygen uptake, but also endothelial cells, resulting in endotheliitis and thrombotic events and intravascular coagulation. The complement system represents the first response of the host immune system to SARS-CoV-2 infection, but there is growing evidence that unrestrained activation of complement induced by the virus in the lungs and other organs plays a major role in acute and chronic inflammation, endothelial cell dysfunction, thrombus formation, and intravascular coagulation, and ultimately contributes to multiple organ failure and death. In this review, we discuss the relative role of the different complement activation products in the pathogenesis of COVID-19-associated tissue inflammation and thrombosis and propose the hypothesis that blockade of the terminal complement pathway may represent a potential therapeutic option for the prevention and treatment of lung and multiorgan damage.
Project description:The COVID-19-, SARS- and MERS-related coronaviruses share many genomic and structural similarities. However, the SARS-CoV-2 is less pathogenic than SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Despite some differences in the cytokine patterns, it seems that the cytokine storm plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of COVID-19-, SARS- and MERS. Monocytes and macrophages may be infected by SARS-CoV-2 through ACE2-dependent and ACE2-independent pathways. SARS-CoV-2 can effectively suppress the anti-viral IFN response in monocytes and macrophages. Since macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) act as antigen presenting cells (APCs), the infection of these cells by SARS-CoV-2 impairs the adaptive immune responses against the virus. Upon infection, monocytes migrate to the tissues where they become infected resident macrophages, allowing viruses to spread through all organs and tissues. The SARS-CoV-2-infected monocytes and macrophages can produce large amounts of numerous types of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, which contribute to local tissue inflammation and a dangerous systemic inflammatory response called cytokine storm. Both local tissue inflammation and the cytokine storm play a fundamental role in the development of COVID-19-related complications, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a main cause of death in COVID-19 patients. Here, we describe the monocytes and macrophage responses during severe coronavirus infections, while highlighting potential therapeutic interventions to attenuate macrophage-related inflammatory reactions in possible approaches for COVID-19 treatment.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Respiratory and intestinal tract are two primary target organs of SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, detailed characterization of the host-virus interplay in infected human lung and intestinal epithelial cells is lacking. METHODS:We utilized immunofluorescence assays, flow cytometry, and RT-qPCR to delineate the virological features and the innate immune response of the host cells against SARS-CoV-2 infection in two prototype human cell lines representing the human lung (Calu3) and intestinal (Caco2) epithelium when compared with SARS-CoV. RESULTS:Lung epithelial cells were significantly more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 compared to SARS-CoV. However, SARS-CoV-2 infection induced an attenuated pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines induction and type I and type II IFN responses. A single dose of 10?U/mL interferon-? (IFN?) pretreatment potently protected both Calu3 and Caco2 against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Interestingly, SARS-CoV-2 was more sensitive to the pretreatment with IFN? and IFN inducer than SARS-CoV in Calu3. CONCLUSIONS:Despite robust infection in both human lung and intestinal epithelial cells, SARS-CoV-2 could attenuate the virus-induced pro-inflammatory response and IFN response. Pre-activation of the type I IFN signaling pathway primed a highly efficient antiviral response in the host against SARS-CoV-2 infection, which could serve as a potential therapeutic and prophylactic maneuver to COVID-19 patients.