We are pleased to feature all COVID-19-related articles published in JCI Insight.
The editors of JCI and JCI Insight have revised the editorial process to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global research community. Highlights:
BACKGROUND. Severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a pandemic. This study addressed the clinical and immunopathological characteristics of severe COVID-19. METHODS. Sixty-nine COVID-19 patients were classified into as severe and non-severe groups to analyze their clinical and laboratory characteristics. A panel of blood cytokines was quantified over time. Biopsy specimens from two deceased cases were obtained for immunopathological, ultrastructural, and in situ hybridization examinations. RESULTS. Circulating cytokines, including IL8, IL6, TNFα, IP10, MCP1, and RANTES, were significantly elevated in severe COVID-19 patients. Dynamic IL6 and IL8 were associated with disease progression. SARS-CoV-2 was demonstrated to infect type II, type I pneumocytes and endothelial cells, leading to severe lung damage through cell pyroptosis and apoptosis. In severe cases, lymphopenia, neutrophilia, depletion of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, and massive macrophage and neutrophil infiltrates were observed in both blood and lung tissues. CONCLUSIONS. A panel of circulating cytokines could be used to predict disease deterioration and inform clinical interventions. Severe pulmonary damage was predominantly attributed to both SARS-CoV-2 caused cytopathy and immunopathologic damage. Strategies that encourage pulmonary recruitment and overactivation of inflammatory cells by suppressing cytokine storm might improve the outcomes of severe COVID-19 patients.
Shaohua Li, Lina Jiang, Xi Li, Fang Lin, Yijin Wang, Boan Li, Tianjun Jiang, Weimin An, Shuhong Liu, Hongyang Liu, Pengfei Xu, Lihua Zhao, Lixin Zhang, Jinsong Mu, Hongwei Wang, Jiarui Kang, Yan Li, Lei Huang, Caizhong Zhu, Shousong Zhao, Jiangyang Lu, Junsheng Ji, Jingmin Zhao
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of human coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The virus rapidly spread globally, resulting in a public health crisis including almost 5 million cases and 323,256 deaths as of May 21, 2020. Here, we describe the identification and evaluation of commercially available reagents and assays for the molecular detection of SARS-CoV-2 in infected FFPE cell pellets. We identified a suitable rabbit polyclonal anti–SARS-CoV spike protein antibody and a mouse monoclonal anti–SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein (NP) antibody for cross-detection of the respective SARS-CoV-2 proteins by IHC and immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Next, we established RNAscope in situ hybridization (ISH) to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Furthermore, we established a multiplex FISH (mFISH) to detect positive-sense SARS-CoV-2 RNA and negative-sense SARS-CoV-2 RNA (a replicative intermediate indicating viral replication). Finally, we developed a dual staining assay using IHC and ISH to detect SARS-CoV-2 antigen and RNA in the same FFPE section. It is hoped that these reagents and assays will accelerate COVID-19 pathogenesis studies in humans and in COVID-19 animal models.
Jun Liu, April M. Babka, Brian J. Kearney, Sheli R. Radoshitzky, Jens H. Kuhn, Xiankun Zeng
BACKGROUND The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a novel viral pneumonia (COVID-19), which is rapidly spreading throughout the world. The positive result of nucleic acid test is a golden criterion to confirm SARS-CoV-2 infection, but the detection features remain unclear.METHODS We performed a retrospective analysis in 5630 high-risk individuals receiving SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid tests in Wuhan, China, and investigated their characteristics and diagnosis rates.RESULTS The overall diagnosis rate was 34.7% (1952/5630). Male (P = 0.025) and older populations (P = 2.525 × 10–39) were at significantly higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. People were generally susceptible, and most cases concentrated in people of 30–79 years. Furthermore, we investigated the association between diagnosis rate and the amount of testing in 501 subjects. Results revealed a 1.27-fold improvement (from 27.9% to 35.5%) of diagnosis rate from testing once to twice (P = 5.847 × 10–9) and a 1.43-fold improvement (from 27.9% to 39.9%) from testing once to 3 times (P = 7.797 × 10–14). More than 3 testing administrations was not helpful for further improvement. However, this improvement was not observed in subjects with pneumonia (P = 0.097).CONCLUSION All populations are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and male and older-aged populations are at significantly higher risk. Increasing the amount of testing could significantly improve diagnosis rates, except for subjects with pneumonia. It is recommended to test twice in those high-risk individuals whose results are negative the first time, and performing 3 tests is better, if possible.FUNDING This work was supported by National Mega Project on Major Infectious Disease Prevention (no. 2017ZX10103005-007) and National Key Research and Development Program of China (no. 2018YFE0204500).
Na Shen, Yaowu Zhu, Xiong Wang, Jing Peng, Weiyong Liu, Feng Wang, Yanjun Lu, Liming Cheng, Ziyong Sun
In severe cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), viral pneumonia progresses to respiratory failure. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are extracellular webs of chromatin, microbicidal proteins, and oxidant enzymes that are released by neutrophils to contain infections. However, when not properly regulated, NETs have the potential to propagate inflammation and microvascular thrombosis — including in the lungs of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. We now report that sera from patients with COVID-19 have elevated levels of cell-free DNA, myeloperoxidase-DNA (MPO-DNA), and citrullinated histone H3 (Cit-H3); the latter 2 are specific markers of NETs. Highlighting the potential clinical relevance of these findings, cell-free DNA strongly correlated with acute-phase reactants, including C-reactive protein, D-dimer, and lactate dehydrogenase, as well as absolute neutrophil count. MPO-DNA associated with both cell-free DNA and absolute neutrophil count, while Cit-H3 correlated with platelet levels. Importantly, both cell-free DNA and MPO-DNA were higher in hospitalized patients receiving mechanical ventilation as compared with hospitalized patients breathing room air. Finally, sera from individuals with COVID-19 triggered NET release from control neutrophils in vitro. Future studies should investigate the predictive power of circulating NETs in longitudinal cohorts and determine the extent to which NETs may be novel therapeutic targets in severe COVID-19.
Yu Zuo, Srilakshmi Yalavarthi, Hui Shi, Kelsey Gockman, Melanie Zuo, Jacqueline A. Madison, Christopher Blair, Andrew Weber, Betsy J. Barnes, Mikala Egeblad, Robert J. Woods, Yogendra Kanthi, Jason S. Knight
BACKGROUND The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), infected by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused a severe outbreak throughout the world. The host immunity of COVID-19 patients is unknown.METHODS The routine laboratory tests and host immunity in COVID-19 patients with different severity of illness were compared after patient admission.RESULTS A total of 65 SARS-CoV-2–positive patients were classified as having mild (n = 30), severe (n = 20), and extremely severe (n = 15) illness. Many routine laboratory tests, such as ferritin, lactate dehydrogenase, and D-dimer, were increased in severe and extremely severe patients. The absolute numbers of CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and B cells were gradually decreased with increased severity of illness. The activation markers such as HLA-DR and CD45RO expressed on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were increased in severe and extremely severe patients compared with mild patients. The costimulatory molecule CD28 had opposite results. The percentage of natural Tregs was decreased in extremely severe patients. The percentage of IFN-γ–producing CD8+ T cells was increased in both severe and extremely severe patients compared with mild patients. The percentage of IFN-γ–producing CD4+ T cells was increased in extremely severe patients. IL-2R, IL-6, and IL-10 were all increased in extremely severe patients. The activation of DC and B cells was decreased in extremely severe patients.CONCLUSION The number and function of T cells are inconsistent in COVID-19 patients. The hyperfunction of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells is associated with the pathogenesis of extremely severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.FUNDING This work was funded by the National Mega Project on Major Infectious Disease Prevention (2017ZX10103005-007) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2019kfyRCPY098).
Feng Wang, Hongyan Hou, Ying Luo, Guoxing Tang, Shiji Wu, Min Huang, Weiyong Liu, Yaowu Zhu, Qun Lin, Liyan Mao, Minghao Fang, Huilan Zhang, Ziyong Sun
John P. Mills, Keith S. Kaye, Lona Mody
Lessons from history underline the importance of having direct lines of communication to and from public health officials, who must remain free from policital bias in times of crisis.
Kathleen L. Collins, Howard Markel, Andrew P. Lieberman