Emerging Roles of Vitamin D-Induced Antimicrobial Peptides in Antiviral Innate Immunity.
Vitamin D deficiency, characterized by low circulating levels of calcifediol (25-hydroxyvitamin D, 25D) has been linked to increased risk of infections of bacterial and viral origin. Innate immune cells produce hormonal calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, 1,25D) locally from circulating calcifediol in response to pathogen threat and an immune-specific cytokine network. Calcitriol regulates gene expression through its binding to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), a ligand-regulated transcription factor. The hormone-bound VDR induces the transcription of genes integral to innate immunity including pattern recognition receptors, cytokines, and most importantly antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Transcription of the human AMP genes β-defensin 2/defensin-β4 (HBD2/DEFB4) and cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) is stimulated by the VDR bound to promoter-proximal vitamin D response elements. HDB2/DEFB4 and the active form of CAMP, the peptide LL-37, which form amphipathic secondary structures, were initially characterized for their antibacterial actively. Notably, calcitriol signaling induces secretion of antibacterial activity in vitro and in vivo, and low circulating levels of calcifediol are associated with diverse indications characterized by impaired antibacterial immunity such as dental caries and urinary tract infections. However, recent work has also provided evidence that the same AMPs are components of 1,25D-induced antiviral responses, including those against the etiological agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus. This review surveys the evidence for 1,25D-induced antimicrobial activity in vitro and in vivo in humans and presents our current understanding of the potential mechanisms by which CAMP and HBD2/DEFB4 contribute to antiviral immunity.
Trained Immunity: An Overview and the Impact on COVID-19.
Frontiers in immunology. 2022;:837524
Effectively treating infectious diseases often requires a multi-step approach to target different components involved in disease pathogenesis. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global health crisis that requires a comprehensive understanding of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection to develop effective therapeutics. One potential strategy to instill greater immune protection against COVID-19 is boosting the innate immune system. This boosting, termed trained immunity, employs immune system modulators to train innate immune cells to produce an enhanced, non-specific immune response upon reactivation following exposure to pathogens, a process that has been studied in the context of in vitro and in vivo clinical studies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Evaluation of the underlying pathways that are essential to inducing protective trained immunity will provide insight into identifying potential therapeutic targets that may alleviate the COVID-19 crisis. Here we review multiple immune training agents, including Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), β-glucan, and lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and the two most popular cell types involved in trained immunity, monocytes and natural killer (NK) cells, and compare the signaling pathways involved in innate immunity. Additionally, we discuss COVID-19 trained immunity clinical trials, emphasizing the potential of trained immunity to fight SARS-CoV-2 infection. Understanding the mechanisms by which training agents activate innate immune cells to reprogram immune responses may prove beneficial in developing preventive and therapeutic targets against COVID-19.
Emerging concepts in the science of vaccine adjuvants.
Nature reviews. Drug discovery. 2021;(6):454-475
Adjuvants are vaccine components that enhance the magnitude, breadth and durability of the immune response. Following its introduction in the 1920s, alum remained the only adjuvant licensed for human use for the next 70 years. Since the 1990s, a further five adjuvants have been included in licensed vaccines, but the molecular mechanisms by which these adjuvants work remain only partially understood. However, a revolution in our understanding of the activation of the innate immune system through pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) is improving the mechanistic understanding of adjuvants, and recent conceptual advances highlight the notion that tissue damage, different forms of cell death, and metabolic and nutrient sensors can all modulate the innate immune system to activate adaptive immunity. Furthermore, recent advances in the use of systems biology to probe the molecular networks driving immune response to vaccines ('systems vaccinology') are revealing mechanistic insights and providing a new paradigm for the vaccine discovery and development process. Here, we review the 'known knowns' and 'known unknowns' of adjuvants, discuss these emerging concepts and highlight how our expanding knowledge about innate immunity and systems vaccinology are revitalizing the science and development of novel adjuvants for use in vaccines against COVID-19 and future pandemics.
Safety and efficacy of herbal extracts to restore respiratory health and improve innate immunity in COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate severity: A structured summary of a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.
OBJECTIVES Primary Objective • To assess the efficacy of herbal extracts in boosting innate immunity of patients with COVID-19 infection. Secondary Objectives • To assess the efficacy of herbal extracts in restoring respiratory health • To assess the efficacy of Cap. IP in early recovery of patients and decline in viral load • To assess the safety of herbal extracts TRIAL DESIGN This is a single centre, randomized, 2-arm, parallel group, double blind, 1:1 ratio, controlled, exploratory trial with a study period of 30 days from the day of enrolment. PARTICIPANTS Patients attending the COVID treatment centre at Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital, Nehrunagar, Pimpri, Pune, India were screened for their participation in the study. Patients who were known COVID-19 positive (with positive RT-PCR), eligible and willing were enrolled in the study. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR The intervention in the trial has a background in 'Ayurved'. Intervention Arm: Two capsules, Investigational Product (IP) - 1 - 400mg and Investigational Product - 2 - 450mg, containing herbal extracts (a blend of water and CO2 extracts) of Shunthi (Zingiber officinale (Ginger), Vidanga (Embelia ribes), Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Aamalaki (Emblica officinalis), Pippali (Piper longum) and calcined Zinc, Shankha bhasma. Placebo Arm: Edible starch ~ 450 mg. The look and feel of IP and of Placebo boxes were very similar. Patients are to take two capsules (one each of IP-1 and IP-2) twice a day for 15 days, and from the 16th day, one capsule of IP-2 twice a day up-to day 30. Capsules are to be administered orally with plain water. The IP is to be taken with all other concomitant medicines prescribed by the treating physician/doctor. The dose of each component in the IP is very safe to administer. The investigational products are registered products with the Indian Government and have been used for more than 6 months in various health conditions but not for COVID-19. MAIN OUTCOMES Primary Outcome: Efficacy of the herbal extracts in COVID 19 positive patients (in declining viral load: time-point: 4 days and early recovery) Secondary Outcomes: Efficacy of the herbal extracts as an immune-modulator - TH1, TH2, Th17, IL6, NK Cells and CD markers; Immunoglobulin IGG (Serum); Immunoglobulin IGM (Serum) - at 30 days. Efficacy of the investigational product in reducing sequela of the disease Safety analysis (Liver Function Test and Kidney Function Test) including serious allergic reaction of: rash, itching/swelling, severe dizziness, trouble breathing. RANDOMISATION An alphanumeric coded set of IP/Placebo containers will be used. Participants will be automatically randomized to two groups in the ratio 1:1. BLINDING (MASKING): Participants, caregivers and investigators were blinded. NUMBERS TO BE RANDOMISED (SAMPLE SIZE): A total of more than 60 and up to 75 patients were to be enrolled in the study into the two groups, considering drop-outs. 72 were enrolled with 37 into the intervention group and 35 into the placebo group. TRIAL STATUS Protocol number: CoviQuest-01 Protocol version number: 1.2 Protocol Date: 1st July 2020 The recruitment period is completed for the trial. Date of 1st patient enrolment was 11th Aug 2020 and the last patient was enrolled on 3rd of September 2020. This is to state that it was a late submission from authors for publication of the protocol to the BMC, after enrolment in the study was over. Last Participant's last follow-up is scheduled on 5th October 2020 TRIAL REGISTRATION The trial was prospectively registered with the CTRI (Clinical Trial Registry of India). Registration number is CTRI/2020/07/026570 . Registered on 14 July 2020 FULL PROTOCOL The full protocol is attached as an additional file, accessible from the Trials website (Additional file 1). In the interest in expediting dissemination of this material, the familiar formatting has been eliminated; this Letter serves as a summary of the key elements of the full protocol.
MECHANISMS IN ENDOCRINOLOGY: Vitamin D and COVID-19.
European journal of endocrinology. 2020;(5):R133-R147
The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic has generated an explosion of interest both in the mechanisms of infection leading to dissemination and expression of this disease, and in potential risk factors that may have a mechanistic basis for disease propagation or control. Vitamin D has emerged as a factor that may be involved in these two areas. The focus of this article is to apply our current understanding of vitamin D as a facilitator of immunocompetence both with regard to innate and adaptive immunity and to consider how this may relate to COVID-19 disease. There are also intriguing potential links to vitamin D as a factor in the cytokine storm that portends some of the most serious consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection, such as the acute respiratory distress syndrome. Moreover, cardiac and coagulopathic features of COVID-19 disease deserve attention as they may also be related to vitamin D. Finally, we review the current clinical data associating vitamin D with SARS-CoV-2 infection, a putative clinical link that at this time must still be considered hypothetical.
BCG revaccination of health workers in Brazil to improve innate immune responses against COVID-19: A structured summary of a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.
OBJECTIVES The BCG vaccine, widely used in Brazil in new-borns, induces adjuvant protection for several diseases, including childhood virus infections. BCG activates monocytes and innate memory NK cells which are crucial for the antiviral immune response. Therefore, strategies to prevent COVID-19 in health workers (HW) should be carried out to prevent them becoming unwell so that they can continue to work during the pandemic. The hypothesis is that BCG will improve the innate immune response and prevent symptomatic infection or COVID-19 severity. The primary objective is to verify the effectiveness and safety of the BCG vaccine to prevent or reduce incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in the city of Goiânia (Brazil) among HW previously vaccinated with BCG and also its severity and mortality during the pandemic of the disease. Secondary objectives are to estimate the incidence of COVID-19 among these professionals and the innate immune response elicited to BCG. TRIAL DESIGN This a phase II trial for repositioning BCG as a preventive strategy against COVID-19. The trial is an open-label, parallel-group randomised clinical trial, comparing HW vaccinated with BCG and HW not vaccinated. PARTICIPANTS The trial will recruit 800 HW of Goiânia - Goiás, Brazil to reach a total of 400 HW included after comorbidities questioning and laboratorial evaluation. Eligibility criteria: Any HW presenting BCG vaccination scar with direct contact with suspected COVID-19 patients for at least 8 hours per week, whether in hospital beds, ICU, or in transportation or admission (nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionists, receptionists, etc.) who have negative IgM and IgG COVID-19 test. Participants with any of the following characteristics will be excluded: - Have had in the last fifteen days any signs or symptoms of virus infection, including COVID-19; - Have had fever in the last fifteen days; - Have been vaccinated fifteen days before the inclusion; - Have a history or confirmation of any immunosuppressive disease such as HIV, presented solid tumour in the last two years or autoimmune diseases; - Are under preventive medication with antibiotics, steroid anti-inflammatories, or chemotherapy; - Have less than 500 neutrophils per mL of blood; - Have previously been diagnosed with tuberculosis; - Are breastfeeding or pregnant; - Are younger than 18 years old; - Are participating as an investigator in this clinical trial. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR HW will be randomized into the BCG vaccinated group or the BCG unvaccinated control group. The BCG vaccinated group will receive in the right arm, intradermally, a one off dose of 0.1 mL corresponding to approximately 2 x105 to 8 x105 CFU of live, freeze-dried, attenuated BCG Moscow 361-I, Bacillus Calmette Guerin vaccine (Serum Institute of India PVT. LTD.). The unvaccinated control group will not be vaccinated. The HW allocated in both groups will be followed up at specific times points until 180 days post inclusion. The vaccinated and control groups will be compared according to COVID-19 related outcomes. MAIN OUTCOMES The primary outcomes are the incidence coefficient of infection by SARS-CoV-2 determined by RT-PCR of naso-oropharyngeal swab specimen or rapid lateral flow IgG and IgM test, and presence of general COVID-19 symptoms, disease severity and admission to hospital during the 180 days of follow up. The secondary outcome is the innate immune response elicited 15-20 days after vaccination. RANDOMISATION The vaccine vial contains approximately 10 doses. In order to optimize the vaccine use, the randomisation was performed in blocks of 20 participants using the platform randomization.com [ http://www.jerrydallal.com/random/permute.htm ]. The randomization was prepared before any HW inclusion. The results were printed and inserted in sealed envelopes that were numbered with BCG-001 to BCG-400. The printed results as well the envelopes had the same numbers. At the time of the randomisation, each participant that meets the inclusion criteria will receive a consecutive participant number [BCG-001-BCG-400]. The sealed envelope with the assigned number, blinded to the researchers, will be opened in front of the participant and the arm allocation will be known. BLINDING (MASKING): There is no masking for the participants or for the healthcare providers. The study will be blinded to the laboratory researchers and to those who will be evaluating the outcomes and performing the statistical analyses. In this case, only the participant identification number will be available. NUMBERS TO BE RANDOMISED (SAMPLE SIZE): Four hundred heath workers will be randomised in two groups. Two hundred participants will be vaccinated, and 200 participants will not be vaccinated. TRIAL STATUS The protocol approved by the Brazilian Ethical Committee is the seventh version, number CAAE 31783720.0.0000.5078. The trial has been recruiting since September 20th, 2020. The clinical trial protocol was registered on August 5th, 2020. It is estimated that recruitment will finish by March 2021. TRIAL REGISTRATION The protocol number was registered on August 5th, 2020 at REBEC (Registro Brasileiro de Ensaios Clínicos). Register number: RBR-4kjqtg and WHO trial registration number UTN: U1111-1256-3892. FULL PROTOCOL The full protocol is attached as an additional file, accessible from the Trials website (Additional file 1). In the interest in expediting dissemination of this material, the familiar formatting has been eliminated; this Letter serves as a summary of the key elements of the full protocol.
Exposome and Immunity Training: How Pathogen Exposure Order Influences Innate Immune Cell Lineage Commitment and Function.
International journal of molecular sciences. 2020;(22)
Immune memory is a defining characteristic of adaptive immunity, but recent work has shown that the activation of innate immunity can also improve responsiveness in subsequent exposures. This has been coined "trained immunity" and diverges with the perception that the innate immune system is primitive, non-specific, and reacts to novel and recurrent antigen exposures similarly. The "exposome" is the cumulative exposures (diet, exercise, environmental exposure, vaccination, genetics, etc.) an individual has experienced and provides a mechanism for the establishment of immune training or immunotolerance. It is becoming increasingly clear that trained immunity constitutes a delicate balance between the dose, duration, and order of exposures. Upon innate stimuli, trained immunity or tolerance is shaped by epigenetic and metabolic changes that alter hematopoietic stem cell lineage commitment and responses to infection. Due to the immunomodulatory role of the exposome, understanding innate immune training is critical for understanding why some individuals exhibit protective phenotypes while closely related individuals may experience immunotolerant effects (e.g., the order of exposure can result in completely divergent immune responses). Research on the exposome and trained immunity may be leveraged to identify key factors for improving vaccination development, altering inflammatory disease development, and introducing potential new prophylactic treatments, especially for diseases such as COVID-19, which is currently a major health issue for the world. Furthermore, continued exposome research may prevent many deleterious effects caused by immunotolerance that frequently result in host morbidity or mortality.
Vitamin D3 as Potential Treatment Adjuncts for COVID-19.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type (SARS-CoV2, also known as COVID-19), which is the latest pandemic infectious disease, constitutes a serious risk to human health. SARS-CoV2 infection causes immune activation and systemic hyperinflammation which can lead to respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS victims are characterized by a significant increase in IL-6 and IL-1. Macrophage activation, associated with the "cytokine storm", promotes the dysregulation of the innate immunity. So far, without vaccines or specific therapy, all efforts to design drugs or clinical trials are worthwhile. Vitamin D and its receptor vitamin D receptor (VDR) exert a critical role in infections due to their remarkable impact on both innate and adaptive immune responses and on the suppression of the inflammatory process. The protective properties of vitamin D supplementation have been supported by numerous observational studies and by meta-analysis of clinical trials for prevention of viral acute respiratory infection. In this review, we compare the mechanisms of the host immune response to SARS-CoV2 infection and the immunomodulatory actions that vitamin D exerts in order to consider the preventive effect of vitamin D supplementation on SARS-CoV2 viral infection.