Severe COVID-19 disease is associated with dysregulation of the myeloid compartment during acute infection. Survivors frequently experience long-lasting sequelae, but little is known about the eventual persistence of this immune alteration. Herein, we evaluated TLR-induced cytokine responses in a cohort of mild to critical patients during acute or convalescent phases (n = 97). In the acute phase, we observed impaired cytokine production by monocytes in the patients with the most severe COVID-19. This capacity was globally restored in convalescent patients. However, we observed increased responsiveness to TLR1/2 ligation in patients who recovered from severe disease, indicating that these cells display distinct functional properties at the different stages of the disease. In patients with acute severe COVID-19, we identified a specific transcriptomic and epigenomic state in monocytes that can account for their functional refractoriness. The molecular profile of monocytes from recovering patients was distinct and characterized by increased chromatin accessibility at activating protein 1 (AP1) and MAF loci. These results demonstrate that severe COVID-19 infection has a profound impact on the differentiation status and function of circulating monocytes, during both the acute and the convalescent phases, in a completely distinct manner. This could have important implications for our understanding of short- and long-term COVID-19–related morbidity.
Elisa Brauns, Abdulkader Azouz, David Grimaldi, Hanxi Xiao, Séverine Thomas, Muriel Nguyen, Véronique Olislagers, Ines Vu Duc, Carmen Orte Cano, Véronique Del Marmol, Pieter Pannus, Frédérick Libert, Sven Saussez, Nicolas Dauby, Jishnu Das, Arnaud Marchant, Stanislas Goriely