Identifying genes that result in monogenic diabetes can provide insights that can build a scientific foundation for precision medicine. At present, nearly 20% of neonatal diabetes cases have unknown causes. In this issue of the JCI, De Franco and Lytrivi et al. sequenced the genome of two probands with a rare neonatal diabetes subtype that also associated with microcephaly and epilepsy. The authors revealed mutations in the YIPF5 gene. YIPF5 resides in the Golgi apparatus and is thought to play a critical role in vesicular trafficking. Notably, disrupting YIPF5 in β cell–based models induced ER stress signaling and resulted in the accumulation of intracellular proinsulin. We believe that utilizing registries and biobanks to reveal other monogenic atypical forms of diabetes is an important approach to gaining insight and suggest that an insulin sensitizer may alleviate ER stress associated with YIPF5 disruption by decreasing the demand for insulin secretion.
Toni I. Pollin, Simeon I. Taylor
Neonatal diabetes is caused by single gene mutations reducing pancreatic β cell number or impairing β cell function. Understanding the genetic basis of rare diabetes subtypes highlights fundamental biological processes in β cells. We identified 6 patients from 5 families with homozygous mutations in the YIPF5 gene, which is involved in trafficking between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the Golgi. All patients had neonatal/early-onset diabetes, severe microcephaly, and epilepsy. YIPF5 is expressed during human brain development, in adult brain and pancreatic islets. We used 3 human β cell models (YIPF5 silencing in EndoC-βH1 cells, YIPF5 knockout and mutation knockin in embryonic stem cells, and patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells) to investigate the mechanism through which YIPF5 loss of function affects β cells. Loss of YIPF5 function in stem cell–derived islet cells resulted in proinsulin retention in the ER, marked ER stress, and β cell failure. Partial YIPF5 silencing in EndoC-βH1 cells and a patient mutation in stem cells increased the β cell sensitivity to ER stress–induced apoptosis. We report recessive YIPF5 mutations as the genetic cause of a congenital syndrome of microcephaly, epilepsy, and neonatal/early-onset diabetes, highlighting a critical role of YIPF5 in β cells and neurons. We believe this is the first report of mutations disrupting the ER-to-Golgi trafficking, resulting in diabetes.
Elisa De Franco, Maria Lytrivi, Hazem Ibrahim, Hossam Montaser, Matthew N. Wakeling, Federica Fantuzzi, Kashyap Patel, Céline Demarez, Ying Cai, Mariana Igoillo-Esteve, Cristina Cosentino, Väinö Lithovius, Helena Vihinen, Eija Jokitalo, Thomas W. Laver, Matthew B. Johnson, Toshiaki Sawatani, Hadis Shakeri, Nathalie Pachera, Belma Haliloglu, Mehmet Nuri Ozbek, Edip Unal, Ruken Yıldırım, Tushar Godbole, Melek Yildiz, Banu Aydin, Angeline Bilheu, Ikuo Suzuki, Sarah E. Flanagan, Pierre Vanderhaeghen, Valérie Senée, Cécile Julier, Piero Marchetti, Decio L. Eizirik, Sian Ellard, Jonna Saarimäki-Vire, Timo Otonkoski, Miriam Cnop, Andrew T. Hattersley
Homeostasis of bone metabolism is regulated by the central nervous system, and mood disorders such as anxiety are associated with bone metabolism abnormalities, yet our understanding of the central neural circuits regulating bone metabolism is limited. Here, we demonstrate that chronic stress in crewmembers resulted in decreased bone density and elevated anxiety in an isolated habitat mimicking a space station. We then used a mouse model to demonstrate that GABAergic neural circuitry in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) mediates chronic stress–induced bone loss. We show that GABAergic inputs in the dorsomedial VMH arise from a specific group of somatostatin neurons in the posterior region of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, which is indispensable for stress-induced bone loss and is able to trigger bone loss in the absence of stressors. In addition, the sympathetic system and glutamatergic neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius were employed to regulate stress-induced bone loss. Our study has therefore identified the central neural mechanism by which chronic stress–induced mood disorders, such as anxiety, influence bone metabolism.
Fan Yang, Yunhui Liu, Shanping Chen, Zhongquan Dai, Dazhi Yang, Dashuang Gao, Jie Shao, Yuyao Wang, Ting Wang, Zhijian Zhang, Lu Zhang, William W. Lu, Yinghui Li, Liping Wang
BACKGROUND Data from studies conducted in rodent models have shown that decreased adipose tissue (AT) oxygenation is involved in the pathogenesis of obesity-induced insulin resistance. Here, we evaluated the potential influence of AT oxygenation on AT biology and insulin sensitivity in people.METHODS We evaluated subcutaneous AT oxygen partial pressure (pO2); liver and whole-body insulin sensitivity; AT expression of genes and pathways involved in inflammation, fibrosis, and branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolism; systemic markers of inflammation; and plasma BCAA concentrations, in 3 groups of participants that were rigorously stratified by adiposity and insulin sensitivity: metabolically healthy lean (MHL; n = 11), metabolically healthy obese (MHO; n = 15), and metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO; n = 20).RESULTS AT pO2 progressively declined from the MHL to the MHO to the MUO group, and was positively associated with hepatic and whole-body insulin sensitivity. AT pO2 was positively associated with the expression of genes involved in BCAA catabolism, in conjunction with an inverse relationship between AT pO2 and plasma BCAA concentrations. AT pO2 was negatively associated with AT gene expression of markers of inflammation and fibrosis. Plasma PAI-1 increased from the MHL to the MHO to the MUO group and was negatively correlated with AT pO2, whereas the plasma concentrations of other cytokines and chemokines were not different among the MHL and MUO groups.CONCLUSION These results support the notion that reduced AT oxygenation in individuals with obesity contributes to insulin resistance by increasing plasma PAI-1 concentrations and decreasing AT BCAA catabolism and thereby increasing plasma BCAA concentrations.TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02706262.FUNDING This study was supported by NIH grants K01DK109119, T32HL130357, K01DK116917, R01ES027595, P42ES010337, DK56341 (Nutrition Obesity Research Center), DK20579 (Diabetes Research Center), DK052574 (Digestive Disease Research Center), and UL1TR002345 (Clinical and Translational Science Award); NIH Shared Instrumentation Grants S10RR0227552, S10OD020025, and S10OD026929; and the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Vincenza Cifarelli, Scott C. Beeman, Gordon I. Smith, Jun Yoshino, Darya Morozov, Joseph W. Beals, Brandon D. Kayser, Jeramie D. Watrous, Mohit Jain, Bruce W. Patterson, Samuel Klein
Chronic viral infections are often established by the exploitation of immune-regulatory mechanisms that result in nonfunctional T cell responses. Viruses that establish persistent infections remain a serious threat to human health. Sphingosine kinase 2 (SphK2) generates sphingosine 1-phosphate, which is a molecule known to regulate multiple cellular processes. However, little is known about SphK2’s role during the host immune responses to viral infection. Here, we demonstrate that SphK2 functions during lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus Cl 13 (LCMV Cl 13) infection to limit T cell immune pathology, which subsequently aids in the establishment of virus-induced immunosuppression and the resultant viral persistence. The infection of Sphk2-deficient (Sphk2–/–) mice with LCMV Cl 13 led to the development of nephropathy and mortality via T cell–mediated immunopathology. Following LCMV infection, Sphk2–/– CD4+ T cells displayed increased activity and proliferation, and these cells promoted overactive LCMV Cl 13–specific CD8+ T cell responses. Notably, oral instillation of an SphK2-selective inhibitor promoted protective T cell responses and accelerated the termination of LCMV Cl 13 persistence in mice. Thus, SphK2 is indicated as an immunotherapeutic target for the control of persistent viral infections.
Caleb J. Studstill, Curtis J. Pritzl, Young-Jin Seo, Dae Young Kim, Chuan Xia, Jennifer J. Wolf, Ravi Nistala, Madhuvanthi Vijayan, Yong-Bin Cho, Kyung Won Kang, Sang-Myeong Lee, Bumsuk Hahm
Heterotopic ossification (HO) is pathological bone formation characterized by ossification within muscle, tendons, or other soft tissues. However, the cells of origin and mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of HO remain elusive. Here we show that deletion of suppressor of fused (Sufu) in cathepsin K–Cre–expressing (Ctsk-Cre–expressing) cells resulted in spontaneous and progressive ligament, tendon, and periarticular ossification. Lineage tracing studies and cell functional analysis demonstrated that Ctsk-Cre could label a subpopulation of tendon-derived progenitor cells (TDPCs) marked by the tendon marker Scleraxis (Scx). Ctsk+Scx+ TDPCs are enriched for tendon stem cell markers and show the highest self-renewal capacity and differentiation potential. Sufu deficiency caused enhanced chondrogenic and osteogenic differentiation of Ctsk-Cre–expressing tendon-derived cells via upregulation of Hedgehog (Hh) signaling. Furthermore, pharmacological intervention in Hh signaling using JQ1 suppressed the development of HO. Thus, our results show that Ctsk-Cre labels a subpopulation of TDPCs contributing to HO and that their cell-fate changes are driven by activation of Hh signaling.
Heng Feng, Wenhui Xing, Yujiao Han, Jun Sun, Mingxiang Kong, Bo Gao, Yang Yang, Zi Yin, Xiao Chen, Yun Zhao, Qing Bi, Weiguo Zou
Individuals with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can develop pneumonia and a severe inflammatory response with excessive cytokine release known as the cytokine storm. The JAK inhibitor baricitinib, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, reduces inflammation by modifying the cytokine pathway. In this issue of the JCI, Bronte, Ugel, and colleagues performed an observational longitudinal study to evaluate the use of baricitinib in 20 patients with COVID-19. The treated patients showed reduced levels of plasma IL-6, TNF, IL-1β, and phosphorylated STAT3 as well as swift lymphocyte restoration. Notably, these patients had a dramatically favorable clinical outcome. While bias can plague uncontrolled research, this study has biological credibility and warrants randomized, controlled studies.
David L. Thomas
BACKGROUND Patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) develop pneumonia generally associated with lymphopenia and a severe inflammatory response due to uncontrolled cytokine release. These mediators are transcriptionally regulated by the JAK/STAT signaling pathways, which can be disabled by small molecules.METHODS We treated a group of patients (n = 20) with baricitinib according to an off-label use of the drug. The study was designed as an observational, longitudinal trial and approved by the local ethics committee. The patients were treated with 4 mg baricitinib twice daily for 2 days, followed by 4 mg per day for the remaining 7 days. Changes in the immune phenotype and expression of phosphorylated STAT3 (p-STAT3) in blood cells were evaluated and correlated with serum-derived cytokine levels and antibodies against severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (anti–SARS-CoV-2). In a single treated patient, we also evaluated the alteration of myeloid cell functional activity.RESULTS We provide evidence that patients treated with baricitinib had a marked reduction in serum levels of IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α, a rapid recovery of circulating T and B cell frequencies, and increased antibody production against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, all of which were clinically associated with a reduction in the need for oxygen therapy and a progressive increase in the P/F (PaO2, oxygen partial pressure/FiO2, fraction of inspired oxygen) ratio.CONCLUSION These data suggest that baricitinib prevented the progression to a severe, extreme form of the viral disease by modulating the patients’ immune landscape and that these changes were associated with a safer, more favorable clinical outcome for patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04438629.FUNDING This work was supported by the Fondazione Cariverona (ENACT Project) and the Fondazione TIM.
Vincenzo Bronte, Stefano Ugel, Elisa Tinazzi, Antonio Vella, Francesco De Sanctis, Stefania Canè, Veronica Batani, Rosalinda Trovato, Alessandra Fiore, Varvara Petrova, Francesca Hofer, Roza Maria Barouni, Chiara Musiu, Simone Caligola, Laura Pinton, Lorena Torroni, Enrico Polati, Katia Donadello, Simonetta Friso, Francesca Pizzolo, Manuela Iezzi, Federica Facciotti, Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Daniela Righetti, Paolo Bazzoni, Mariaelisa Rampudda, Andrea Comel, Walter Mosaner, Claudio Lunardi, Oliviero Olivieri
Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs) are pacemaker cells in the intestine, and their function can be compromised by loss of C-KIT expression. Macrophage activation has been identified in intestine affected by Hirschsprung disease–associated enterocolitis (HAEC). In this study, we examined proinflammatory macrophage activation and explored the mechanisms by which it downregulates C-KIT expression in ICCs in colon affected by HAEC. We found that macrophage activation and TNF-α production were dramatically increased in the proximal dilated colon of HAEC patients and 3-week-old Ednrb–/– mice. Moreover, ICCs lost their C-KIT+ phenotype in the dilated colon, resulting in damaged pacemaker function and intestinal dysmotility. However, macrophage depletion or TNF-α neutralization led to recovery of ICC phenotype and restored their pacemaker function. In isolated ICCs, TNF-α–mediated phosphorylation of p65 induced overexpression of microRNA-221 (miR-221), resulting in suppression of C-KIT expression and pacemaker currents. We also identified a TNF-α/NF-κB/miR-221 pathway that downregulated C-KIT expression in ICCs in the colon affected by HAEC. These findings suggest the important roles of proinflammatory macrophage activation in a phenotypic switch of ICCs, representing a promising therapeutic target for HAEC.
Xuyong Chen, Xinyao Meng, Hongyi Zhang, Chenzhao Feng, Bin Wang, Ning Li, Khalid Mohamoud Abdullahi, Xiaojuan Wu, Jixin Yang, Zhi Li, Chunlei Jiao, Jia Wei, Xiaofeng Xiong, Kang Fu, Lei Yu, Gail E. Besner, Jiexiong Feng
After over 3 decades of research, an effective anti-HIV vaccine remains elusive. The recently halted HVTN702 clinical trial not only further stresses the challenge to develop an effective HIV vaccine but also emphasizes that unconventional and novel vaccine strategies are urgently needed. Here, we report that a vaccine focusing the immune response on the sequences surrounding the 12 viral protease cleavage sites (PCSs) provided greater than 80% protection to Mauritian cynomolgus macaques against repeated intravaginal SIVmac251 challenges. The PCS-specific T cell responses correlated with vaccine efficacy. The PCS vaccine did not induce immune activation or inflammation known to be associated with increased susceptibility to HIV infection. Machine learning analyses revealed that the immune microenvironment generated by the PCS vaccine was predictive of vaccine efficacy. Our study demonstrates, for the first time to our knowledge, that a vaccine which targets only viral maturation, but lacks full-length Env and Gag immunogens, can prevent intravaginal infection in a stringent macaque/SIV challenge model. Targeting HIV maturation thus offers a potentially novel approach to developing an effective HIV vaccine.
Hongzhao Li, Robert W. Omange, Binhua Liang, Nikki Toledo, Yan Hai, Lewis R. Liu, Dane Schalk, Jose Crecente-Campo, Tamara G. Dacoba, Andrew B. Lambe, So-Yon Lim, Lin Li, Mohammad Abul Kashem, Yanmin Wan, Jorge F. Correia-Pinto, Michael S. Seaman, Xiao Qing Liu, Robert F. Balshaw, Qingsheng Li, Nancy Schultz-Darken, Maria J. Alonso, Francis A. Plummer, James B. Whitney, Ma Luo
Clinical trials are currently testing whether induction of haploidentical mixed chimerism (Haplo-MC) induces organ transplantation tolerance. Whether Haplo-MC can be used to treat established autoimmune diseases remains unknown. Here, we show that established autoimmunity in euthymic and adult-thymectomized NOD (H-2g7) mice was cured by induction of Haplo-MC under a non-myeloablative anti-thymocyte globulin–based conditioning regimen and infusion of CD4+ T cell–depleted hematopoietic graft from H-2b/g7 F1 donors that expressed autoimmune-resistant H-2b or from H-2s/g7 F1 donors that expressed autoimmune-susceptible H-2s. The cure was associated with enhanced thymic negative selection, increased thymic Treg (tTreg) production, and anergy or exhaustion of residual host-type autoreactive T cells in the periphery. The peripheral tolerance was accompanied by expansion of donor- and host-type CD62L–Helios+ tTregs as well as host-type Helios–Nrp1+ peripheral Tregs (pTregs) and PD-L1hi plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs). Depletion of donor- or host-type Tregs led to reduction of host-type PD-L1hi pDCs and recurrence of autoimmunity, whereas PD-L1 deficiency in host-type DCs led to reduction of host-type pDCs and Helios–Nrp1+ pTregs. Thus, induction of Haplo-MC reestablished both central and peripheral tolerance through mechanisms that depend on allo-MHC+ donor-type DCs, PD-L1hi host-type DCs, and the generation and persistence of donor- and host-type tTregs and pTregs.
Yuqing Liu, Xiaoqi Wang, Yongping Zhu, Mingfeng Zhang, Ubaydah Nasri, Sharne S. Sun, Stephen J. Forman, Arthur D. Riggs, Xi Zhang, Defu Zeng
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has emerged as a global pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS–CoV-2). So far, viral targets of cellular immunity and factors determining successful mounting of T cell responses are poorly defined. We therefore analyzed cellular responses to membrane, nucleocapsid, and spike proteins in individuals suffering from moderate or severe infection and in individuals who recovered from mild disease. We demonstrate that the CoV-2–specific CD4+ T helper cell response is directed against all 3 proteins with comparable magnitude, ex vivo proliferation, and portions of responding patients. However, individuals who died were more likely to have not mounted a cellular response to the proteins. Higher patient age and comorbidity index correlated with increased frequencies of CoV-2–specific CD4+ T cells, harboring higher portions of IL-2–secreting, but lower portions of IFN-γ–secreting, cells. Diminished frequencies of membrane protein–reactive IFN-γ+ T cells were particularly associated with higher acute physiology and chronic health evaluation II scores in patients admitted to intensive care. CoV-2–specific T cells exhibited elevated PD-1 expression in patients with active disease as compared with those individuals who recovered from previous mild disease. In summary, our data suggest a link between individual patient predisposition with respect to age and comorbidity and impairment of CoV-2–specific Th1-type cellular immunity, thereby supporting a concept of altered T cell function in at-risk patients.
Arne Sattler, Stefan Angermair, Helena Stockmann, Katrin Moira Heim, Dmytro Khadzhynov, Sascha Treskatsch, Fabian Halleck, Martin E. Kreis, Katja Kotsch
The dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) has been recognized as a key cortical area for nociceptive modulation. However, the underlying neural pathway and the function of specific cell types remain largely unclear. Here, we show that lesions in the dmPFC induced an algesic and anxious state. Using multiple tracing methods including a rabies-based transsynaptic tracing method, we outlined an excitatory descending neural pathway from the dmPFC to the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG). Specific activation of the dmPFC/vlPAG neural pathway by optogenetic manipulation produced analgesic and antianxiety effects in a mouse model of chronic pain. Inhibitory neurons in the dmPFC were specifically activated using a chemogenetic approach, which logically produced an algesic and anxious state under both normal and chronic pain conditions. Antagonists of the GABAA receptor (GABAAR) or mGluR1 were applied to the dmPFC, which produced analgesic and antianxiety effects. In summary, the results of our study suggest that the dmPFC/vlPAG neural pathway might participate in the maintenance of pain thresholds and antianxiety behaviors under normal conditions, while silencing or suppressing the dmPFC/vlPAG pathway might be involved in the initial stages and maintenance of chronic pain and the emergence of anxiety-like behaviors.
Jun-Bin Yin, Shao-Hua Liang, Fei Li, Wen-Jun Zhao, Yang Bai, Yi Sun, Zhen-Yu Wu, Tan Ding, Yan Sun, Hai-Xia Liu, Ya-Cheng Lu, Ting Zhang, Jing Huang, Tao Chen, Hui Li, Zhou-Feng Chen, Jing Cao, Rui Ren, Ya-Nan Peng, Juan Yang, Wei-Dong Zang, Xiang Li, Yu-Lin Dong, Yun-Qing Li
Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a mature T cell neoplasm that often expresses the CD4+ T cell surface marker. It usually harbors the t(2;5) (p23;q35) translocation, leading to the ectopic expression of NPM-ALK, a chimeric tyrosine kinase. We demonstrated that in vitro transduction of normal human CD4+ T lymphocytes with NPM-ALK results in their immortalization and malignant transformation. The tumor cells displayed morphological and immunophenotypical characteristics of primary patient–derived anaplastic large cell lymphomas. Cell growth, proliferation, and survival were strictly dependent on NPM-ALK activity and include activation of the key factors STAT3 and DNMT1 and expression of CD30 (the hallmark of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma). Implantation of NPM-ALK–transformed CD4+ T lymphocytes into immunodeficient mice resulted in the formation of tumors indistinguishable from patients’ anaplastic large cell lymphomas. Integration of “Omic” data revealed that NPM-ALK–transformed CD4+ T lymphocytes and primary NPM-ALK+ ALCL biopsies share similarities with early T cell precursors. Of note, these NPM-ALK+ lymphoma cells overexpress stem cell regulators (OCT4, SOX2, and NANOG) and HIF2A, which is known to affect hematopoietic precursor differentiation and NPM-ALK+ cell growth. Altogether, for the first time our findings suggest that NPM-ALK could restore progenitor-like features in mature CD30+ peripheral CD4+ T cells, in keeping with a thymic progenitor-like pattern.
Annabelle Congras, Coralie Hoareau-Aveilla, Nina Caillet, Marie Tosolini, Patrick Villarese, Agata Cieslak, Laura Rodriguez, Vahid Asnafi, Elisabeth Macintyre, Gerda Egger, Pierre Brousset, Laurence Lamant, Fabienne Meggetto
Astrocytes have multiple functions in the brain, including affecting blood vessel (BV) homeostasis and function. However, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we provide evidence that astrocytic neogenin (NEO1), a member of deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) family netrin receptors, is involved in blood vessel homeostasis and function. Mice with Neo1 depletion in astrocytes exhibited clustered astrocyte distribution and increased BVs in their cortices. These BVs were leaky, with reduced blood flow, disrupted vascular basement membranes (vBMs), decreased pericytes, impaired endothelial cell (EC) barrier, and elevated tip EC proliferation. Increased proliferation was also detected in cultured ECs exposed to the conditioned medium (CM) of NEO1-depleted astrocytes. Further screening for angiogenetic factors in the CM identified netrin-1 (NTN1), whose expression was decreased in NEO1-depleted cortical astrocytes. Adding NTN1 into the CM of NEO1-depleted astrocytes attenuated EC proliferation. Expressing NTN1 in NEO1 mutant cortical astrocytes ameliorated phenotypes in blood-brain barrier (BBB), EC, and astrocyte distribution. NTN1 depletion in astrocytes resulted in BV/BBB deficits in the cortex similar to those in Neo1 mutant mice. In aggregate, these results uncovered an unrecognized pathway, astrocytic NEO1 to NTN1, not only regulating astrocyte distribution, but also promoting cortical BV homeostasis and function.
Ling-Ling Yao, Jin-Xia Hu, Qiang Li, Daehoon Lee, Xiao Ren, Jun-Shi Zhang, Dong Sun, Hong-Sheng Zhang, Yong-Gang Wang, Lin Mei, Wen-Cheng Xiong
Nancy J. Brown
The disease spectrum of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ranges from no symptoms to multisystem failure and death. Characterization of virus-specific immune responses to severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS–CoV-2) is key to understanding disease pathogenesis, but few studies have evaluated T cell immunity. In this issue of the JCI, Sattler and Angermair et al. sampled blood from subjects with COVID-19 and analyzed the activation and function of virus antigen–specific CD4+ T cells. T cells that failed to respond to peptides from the membrane, spike, or nucleocapsid proteins were more common in subjects who died. In those whose T cells had the capacity to respond, older patients with comorbidity had larger numbers of activated T cells compared with patients who had fewer risk factors, but these cells showed impaired IFN-γ production. This cross-sectional study relates activated T cell responses to patient risk factors and outcome. However, T cell response trajectory over the disease course remains an open question.
Diane E. Griffin
BACKGROUND Corticosteroids are widely used in patients with COVID 19, although their benefit-to-risk ratio remains controversial.METHODS Patients with severe COVID-19–related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were included from December 29, 2019 to March 16, 2020 in 5 tertiary Chinese hospitals. Cox proportional hazards and competing risks analyses were conducted to analyze the impact of corticosteroids on mortality and SARS–CoV-2 RNA clearance, respectively. We performed a propensity score (PS) matching analysis to control confounding factors.RESULTS Of 774 eligible patients, 409 patients received corticosteroids, with a median time from hospitalization to starting corticosteroids of 1.0 day (IQR 0.0–3.0 days) . As compared with usual care, treatment with corticosteroids was associated with increased rate of myocardial (15.6% vs. 10.4%, P = 0.041) and liver injury (18.3% vs. 9.9%, P = 0.001), of shock (22.0% vs. 12.6%, P < 0.001), of need for mechanical ventilation (38.1% vs. 19.5%, P < 0.001), and increased rate of 28-day all-cause mortality (44.3% vs. 31.0%, P < 0.001). After PS matching, corticosteroid therapy was associated with 28-day mortality (adjusted HR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01–2.13, P = 0.045). High dose (>200 mg) and early initiation (≤3 days from hospitalization) of corticosteroid therapy were associated with a higher 28-day mortality rate. Corticosteroid use was also associated with a delay in SARS–CoV-2 coronavirus RNA clearance in the competing risk analysis (subhazard ratio 1.59, 95% CI 1.17–2.15, P = 0.003).CONCLUSION Administration of corticosteroids in severe COVID-19–related ARDS is associated with increased 28-day mortality and delayed SARS–CoV-2 coronavirus RNA clearance after adjustment for time-varying confounders.FUNDING None.
Jiao Liu, Sheng Zhang, Xuan Dong, Zhongyi Li, Qianghong Xu, Huibin Feng, Jing Cai, Sisi Huang, Jun Guo, Lidi Zhang, Yizhu Chen, Wei Zhu, Hangxiang Du, Yongan Liu, Tao Wang, Limin Chen, Zhenliang Wen, Djillali Annane, Jieming Qu, Dechang Chen
BACKGROUND Marked progress is achieved in understanding the physiopathology of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which caused a global pandemic. However, the CD4+ T cell population critical for antibody response in COVID-19 is poorly understood.METHODS In this study, we provided a comprehensive analysis of peripheral CD4+ T cells from 13 COVID-19 convalescent patients, defined as confirmed free of SARS-CoV-2 for 2 to 4 weeks, using flow cytometry and magnetic chemiluminescence enzyme antibody immunoassay. The data were correlated with clinical characteristics.RESULTS We observed that, relative to healthy individuals, convalescent patients displayed an altered peripheral CD4+ T cell spectrum. Specifically, consistent with other viral infections, cTfh1 cells associated with SARS-CoV-2–targeting antibodies were found in COVID-19 covalescent patients. Individuals with severe disease showed higher frequencies of Tem and Tfh-em cells but lower frequencies of Tcm, Tfh-cm, Tfr, and Tnaive cells, compared with healthy individuals and patients with mild and moderate disease. Interestingly, a higher frequency of cTfh-em cells correlated with a lower blood oxygen level, recorded at the time of admission, in convalescent patients. These observations might constitute residual effects by which COVID-19 can impact the homeostasis of CD4+ T cells in the long-term and explain the highest ratio of class-switched virus-specific antibody producing individuals found in our severe COVID-19 cohort.CONCLUSION Our study demonstrated a close connection between CD4+ T cells and antibody production in COVID-19 convalescent patients.FUNDING Six Talent Peaks Project in Jiangsu Province and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).
Fang Gong, Yaping Dai, Ting Zheng, Liang Cheng, Dan Zhao, Hao Wang, Min Liu, Hao Pei, Tengchuan Jin, Di Yu, Pengcheng Zhou
Although corticosteroids dampen the dysregulated immune system and sometimes are prescribed as an adjunctive treatment for pneumonia, their effectiveness in the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains controversial. In this issue of the JCI, Liu and Zhang et al. evaluated corticosteroid treatment in more than 400 patients with severe COVID-19. The authors assessed subjects retrospectively for cardiac and liver injury, shock, ventilation, mortality, and viral clearance. Corticosteroids in severe COVID-19–related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were associated with increased mortality and delayed viral clearance. Here, we consider how to reconcile the negative effects of corticosteroids revealed by Liu and Zhang et al. with the favorable effects (reduced mortality) that were described in the RECOVERY trial. We posit that treatment timing, dosage, and COVID-19 severity determine immune response and viral outcome. Patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 pneumonia are likely to benefit from moderate-dose corticosteroid treatment when administered relatively late in the disease course.
Michael A. Matthay, Katherine D. Wick