SARS-CoV-2-specific B- and T-cell immunity in a population-based study of young Swedish adults.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 2022;(1):65-75.e8
BACKGROUND Young adults are now considered major spreaders of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease. Although most young individuals experience mild to moderate disease, there are concerns of long-term adverse health effects. The impact of COVID-19 disease and to which extent population-level immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) exists in young adults remain unclear. OBJECTIVE We conducted a population-based study on humoral and cellular immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and explored COVID-19 disease characteristics in young adults. METHODS We invited participants from the Swedish BAMSE (Barn [Children], Allergy Milieu, Stockholm, Epidemiology) birth cohort (age 24-27 years) to take part in a COVID-19 follow-up. From 980 participants (October 2020 to June 2021), we here present data on SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain-specific IgM, IgA, and IgG titers measured by ELISA and on symptoms and epidemiologic factors associated with seropositivity. Further, SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B- and T-cell responses were detected for a subpopulation (n = 108) by ELISpot and FluoroSpot. RESULTS A total of 28.4% of subjects were seropositive, of whom 18.4% were IgM single positive. One in 7 seropositive subjects was asymptomatic. Seropositivity was associated with use of public transport, but not with sex, asthma, rhinitis, IgE sensitization, smoking, or body mass index. In a subset of representative samples, 20.7% and 35.0% had detectable SARS-CoV-2 specific B- and T-cell responses, respectively. B- and T-cell memory responses were clearly associated with seropositivity, but T-cell responses were also detected in 17.2% of seronegative subjects. CONCLUSIONS Assessment of IgM and T-cell responses may improve population-based estimations of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The pronounced surge of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections among young adults indicates that the large-scale vaccination campaign should be continued.
Ferritin - from iron, through inflammation and autoimmunity, to COVID-19.
Journal of autoimmunity. 2022;:102778
While it took decades to arrive to a conclusion that ferritin is more than an indicator of iron storage level, it took a short period of time through the COVID-19 pandemic to wonder what the reason behind high levels of ferritin in patients with severe COVID-19 might be. Unsurprisingly, acute phase reactant was not a satisfactory explanation. Moreover, the behavior of ferritin in patients with severe COVID-19 and the subsequent high mortality rates in patients with high ferritin levels necessitated further investigations to understand the role of ferritin in the diseases. Ferritin was initially described to accompany various acute infections, both viral and bacterial, indicating an acute response to inflammation. However, with the introduction of the hyperferritinemic syndrome connecting four severe pathological conditions such as adult-onset Still's disease, macrophage activation syndrome, catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome, and septic shock added another aspect of ferritin where it could have a pathogenetic role rather than an extremely elevated protein only. In fact, suggesting that COVID-19 is a new member in the spectrum of hyperferritinemic syndrome besides the four mentioned conditions could hopefully direct further search on the pathogenetic role of ferritin. Doubtlessly, improving our understanding of those aspects of ferritin would enormously contribute to better coping with severe diseases in terms of treatment and prevention of complications. The origin, history, importance, and the advances of searching the role of ferritin in various pathological and clinical processes are presented hereby in our article. In addition, the implications of ferritin in COVID-19 are addressed.
Elucidating important structural features for the binding affinity of spike - SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody complexes.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected the lives of millions of people around the world. In an effort to develop therapeutic interventions and control the pandemic, scientists have isolated several neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 from the vaccinated and convalescent individuals. These antibodies can be explored further to understand SARS-CoV-2 specific antigen-antibody interactions and biophysical parameters related to binding affinity, which can be utilized to engineer more potent antibodies for current and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. In the present study, we have analyzed the interface between spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and neutralizing antibodies in terms of amino acid residue propensity, pair preference, and atomic interaction energy. We observed that Tyr residues containing contacts are highly preferred and energetically favorable at the interface of spike protein-antibody complexes. We have also developed a regression model to relate the experimental binding affinity for antibodies using structural features, which showed a correlation of 0.93. Moreover, several mutations at the spike protein-antibody interface were identified, which may lead to immune escape (epitope residues) and improved affinity (paratope residues) in current/emerging variants. Overall, the work provides insights into spike protein-antibody interactions, structural parameters related to binding affinity and mutational effects on binding affinity change, which can be helpful to develop better therapeutics against COVID-19.
Implications of the NADase CD38 in COVID pathophysiology.
Physiological reviews. 2022;(1):339-341
During the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts have been made worldwide to develop effective therapies to address the devastating immune-mediated effects of SARS-CoV-2. With the exception of monoclonal antibody-mediated therapeutics and preventive approaches such as mass immunization, most experimental or repurposed drugs have failed in large randomized clinical trials (https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/therapeutics-and-covid-19-living-guideline). The worldwide spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus revealed specific susceptibilities to the virus among the elderly and individuals with age-related syndromes. These populations were more likely to experience a hyperimmune response characterized by a treatment-resistant acute lung pathology accompanied by multiple organ failure. These observations underscore the interplay between the virus, the biology of aging, and outcomes observed in the most severe cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The ectoenzyme CD38 has been implicated in the process of "inflammaging" in aged tissues. In a current publication, Horenstein et al. present evidence to support the hypothesis that CD38 plays a central role in altered immunometabolism resulting from COVID-19 infection. The authors discuss a critical but underappreciated trifecta of CD38-mediated NAD+ metabolism, aging, and COVID-19 immune response and speculate that the CD38/NAD+ axis is a promising therapeutic target for this disease.
Consequences of COVID-19 for the Pancreas.
International journal of molecular sciences. 2022;(2)
Although coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related major health consequences involve the lungs, a growing body of evidence indicates that COVID-19 is not inert to the pancreas either. This review presents a summary of the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of pancreatic dysfunction during the course of COVID-19, the comparison of the effects of non-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on pancreatic function, and a summary of how drugs used in COVID-19 treatment may affect this organ. It appears that diabetes is not only a condition that predisposes a patient to suffer from more severe COVID-19, but it may also develop as a consequence of infection with this virus. Some SARS-CoV-2 inpatients experience acute pancreatitis due to direct infection of the tissue with the virus or due to systemic multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) accompanied by elevated levels of amylase and lipase. There are also reports that reveal a relationship between the development and treatment of pancreatic cancer and SARS-CoV-2 infection. It has been postulated that evaluation of pancreatic function should be increased in post-COVID-19 patients, both adults and children.
Evaluating the effects of sodium glucose co-transporter -2 inhibitors from a renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system perspective in patients infected with COVID-19: contextualizing findings from the dapagliflozin in respiratory failure in patients with COVID-19 study.
Molecular biology reports. 2022;(3):2321-2324
Numerous studies demonstrate parallels between CVD, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and COVID-19 pathology, which accentuate pre-existing complications in patients infected with COVID-19 and potentially exacerbate the infection course. Antidiabetic drugs such as sodium-glucose transporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors have garnered substantial attention recently due to their efficacy in reducing the severity of cardiorenal disease. The effect of SGLT-2 inhibitors in patients with COVID-19 remains unclear particularly since SGLT-2 inhibitors contribute to altering the RAAS cascade activity, which includes ACE-2, the major cell entry receptor for SARS-CoV2. A study, DARE-19, was carried out to unveil the effects of SGLT-2 inhibitor treatment on comorbid disease complications and concomitant COVID-19 outcomes and demonstrated no statistical significance. However, the need for further studies is essential to provide conclusive clinical findings.
Potential role of Drug Repositioning Strategy (DRS) for management of tauopathy.
Life sciences. 2022;:120267
Tauopathy is a term that has been used to represent a pathological condition in which hyperphosphorylated tau protein aggregates in neurons and glia which results in neurodegeneration, synapse loss and dysfunction and cognitive impairments. Recently, drug repositioning strategy (DRS) becomes a promising field and an alternative approach to advancing new treatments from actually developed and FDA approved drugs for an indication other than the indication it was originally intended for. This paradigm provides an advantage because the safety of the candidate compound has already been established, which abolishes the need for further preclinical safety testing and thus substantially reduces the time and cost involved in progressing of clinical trials. In the present review, we focused on correlation between tauopathy and common diseases as type 2 diabetes mellitus and the global virus COVID-19 and how tau pathology can aggravate development of these diseases in addition to how these diseases can be a risk factor for development of tauopathy. Moreover, correlation between COVID-19 and type 2 diabetes mellitus was also discussed. Therefore, repositioning of a drug in the daily clinical practice of patients to manage or prevent two or more diseases at the same time with lower side effects and drug-drug interactions is a promising idea. This review concluded the results of pre-clinical and clinical studies applied on antidiabetics, COVID-19 medications, antihypertensives, antidepressants and cholesterol lowering drugs for possible drug repositioning for management of tauopathy.
Individual outcome prediction models for patients with COVID-19 based on their first day of admission to the intensive care unit.
Clinical biochemistry. 2022;:13-21
BACKGROUND Currently, good prognosis and management of critically ill patients with COVID-19 are crucial for developing disease management guidelines and providing a viable healthcare system. We aimed to propose individual outcome prediction models based on binary logistic regression (BLR) and artificial neural network (ANN) analyses of data collected in the first 24 h of intensive care unit (ICU) admission for patients with COVID-19 infection. We also analysed different variables for ICU patients who survived and those who died. METHODS Data from 326 critically ill patients with COVID-19 were collected. Data were captured on laboratory variables, demographics, comorbidities, symptoms and hospital stay related information. These data were compared with patient outcomes (survivor and non-survivor patients). BLR was assessed using the Wald Forward Stepwise method, and the ANN model was constructed using multilayer perceptron architecture. RESULTS The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of the ANN model was significantly larger than the BLR model (0.917 vs 0.810; p < 0.001) for predicting individual outcomes. In addition, ANN model presented similar negative predictive value than the BLR model (95.9% vs 94.8%). Variables such as age, pH, potassium ion, partial pressure of oxygen, and chloride were present in both models and they were significant predictors of death in COVID-19 patients. CONCLUSIONS Our study could provide helpful information for other hospitals to develop their own individual outcome prediction models based, mainly, on laboratory variables. Furthermore, it offers valuable information on which variables could predict a fatal outcome for ICU patients with COVID-19.
Secondary structural ensembles of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome in infected cells.
Nature communications. 2022;(1):1128
SARS-CoV-2 is a betacoronavirus with a single-stranded, positive-sense, 30-kilobase RNA genome responsible for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although population average structure models of the genome were recently reported, there is little experimental data on native structural ensembles, and most structures lack functional characterization. Here we report secondary structure heterogeneity of the entire SARS-CoV-2 genome in two lines of infected cells at single nucleotide resolution. Our results reveal alternative RNA conformations across the genome and at the critical frameshifting stimulation element (FSE) that are drastically different from prevailing population average models. Importantly, we find that this structural ensemble promotes frameshifting rates much higher than the canonical minimal FSE and similar to ribosome profiling studies. Our results highlight the value of studying RNA in its full length and cellular context. The genomic structures detailed here lay groundwork for coronavirus RNA biology and will guide the design of SARS-CoV-2 RNA-based therapeutics.
Efficacy of the adjuvanted subunit protein COVID-19 vaccine, SCB-2019: a phase 2 and 3 multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial.
Lancet (London, England). 2022;(10323):461-472
BACKGROUND A range of safe and effective vaccines against SARS CoV 2 are needed to address the COVID 19 pandemic. We aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine SCB-2019. METHODS This ongoing phase 2 and 3 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was done in adults aged 18 years and older who were in good health or with a stable chronic health condition, at 31 sites in five countries (Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Philippines, and South Africa). The participants were randomly assigned 1:1 using a centralised internet randomisation system to receive two 0·5 mL intramuscular doses of SCB-2019 (30 μg, adjuvanted with 1·50 mg CpG-1018 and 0·75 mg alum) or placebo (0·9% sodium chloride for injection supplied in 10 mL ampoules) 21 days apart. All study staff and participants were masked, but vaccine administrators were not. Primary endpoints were vaccine efficacy, measured by RT-PCR-confirmed COVID-19 of any severity with onset from 14 days after the second dose in baseline SARS-CoV-2 seronegative participants (the per-protocol population), and the safety and solicited local and systemic adverse events in the phase 2 subset. This study is registered on EudraCT (2020-004272-17) and ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04672395). FINDINGS 30 174 participants were enrolled from March 24, 2021, until the cutoff date of Aug 10, 2021, of whom 30 128 received their first assigned vaccine (n=15 064) or a placebo injection (n=15 064). The per-protocol population consisted of 12 355 baseline SARS-CoV-2-naive participants (6251 vaccinees and 6104 placebo recipients). Most exclusions (13 389 [44·4%]) were because of seropositivity at baseline. There were 207 confirmed per-protocol cases of COVID-19 at 14 days after the second dose, 52 vaccinees versus 155 placebo recipients, and an overall vaccine efficacy against any severity COVID-19 of 67·2% (95·72% CI 54·3-76·8), 83·7% (97·86% CI 55·9-95·4) against moderate-to-severe COVID-19, and 100% (97·86% CI 25·3-100·0) against severe COVID-19. All COVID-19 cases were due to virus variants; vaccine efficacy against any severity COVID-19 due to the three predominant variants was 78·7% (95% CI 57·3-90·4) for delta, 91·8% (44·9-99·8) for gamma, and 58·6% (13·3-81·5) for mu. No safety issues emerged in the follow-up period for the efficacy analysis (median of 82 days [IQR 63-103]). The vaccine elicited higher rates of mainly mild-to-moderate injection site pain than the placebo after the first (35·7% [287 of 803] vs 10·3% [81 of 786]) and second (26·9% [189 of 702] vs 7·4% [52 of 699]) doses, but the rates of other solicited local and systemic adverse events were similar between the groups. INTERPRETATION Two doses of SCB-2019 vaccine plus CpG and alum provides notable protection against the entire severity spectrum of COVID-19 caused by circulating SAR-CoV-2 viruses, including the predominating delta variant. FUNDING Clover Biopharmaceuticals and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.