- Dynamics of inflammatory responses after SARS-CoV-2 infection by vaccination status in the USA: a prospective cohort study
Cytokines and chemokines play a critical role in the response to infection and vaccination. Researchers aimed to assess the longitudinal association of COVID-19 vaccination with cytokine and chemokine concentrations and trajectories among people with SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this longitudinal, prospective cohort study, blood samples were used from participants enrolled in a multi-centre randomised trial assessing the efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy for ambulatory COVID-19. The trial was conducted in 23 outpatient sites in the USA. In this study, participants (aged ≥18 years) were restricted to those with COVID-19 before vaccination or with breakthrough infections who had blood samples and symptom data collected at screening (pre-transfusion), day 14, and day 90 visits. Associations between COVID-19 vaccination status and concentrations of 21 cytokines and chemokines (measured using multiplexed sandwich immunoassays) were examined using multivariate linear mixed-effects regression models, adjusted for age, sex, BMI, hypertension, diabetes, trial group, and COVID-19 waves (pre-alpha or alpha and delta). Between June 29, 2020, and Sept 30, 2021, 882 participants recently infected with SARS-CoV-2 were enrolled, of whom 506 (57%) were female and 376 (43%) were male. 688 (78%) of 882 participants were unvaccinated, 55 (6%) were partly vaccinated, and 139 (16%) were fully vaccinated at baseline. After adjusting for confounders, geometric mean concentrations of interleukin (IL)-2RA, IL-7, IL-8, IL-15, IL-29 (interferon-λ), inducible protein-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, and tumour necrosis factor-α were significantly lower among the fully vaccinated group than in the unvaccinated group at screening. On day 90, fully vaccinated participants had approximately 20% lower geometric mean concentrations of IL-7, IL-8, and vascular endothelial growth factor-A than unvaccinated participants. Cytokine and chemokine concentrations decreased over time in the fully and partly vaccinated groups and unvaccinated group. Log10 cytokine and chemokine concentrations decreased faster among participants in the unvaccinated group than in other groups, but their geometric mean concentrations were generally higher than fully vaccinated participants at 90 days. Days since full vaccination and type of vaccine received were not correlated with cytokine and chemokine concentrations. Initially and during recovery from symptomatic COVID-19, fully vaccinated participants had lower concentrations of inflammatory markers than unvaccinated participants suggesting vaccination is associated with short-term and long-term reduction in inflammation, which could in part explain the reduced disease severity and mortality in vaccinated individuals.
- Core mitochondrial genes are down-regulated during SARS-CoV-2 infection of rodent and human hosts
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral proteins bind to host mitochondrial proteins, likely inhibiting oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and stimulating glycolysis. Researchers analyzed mitochondrial gene expression in nasopharyngeal and autopsy tissues from patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In nasopharyngeal samples with declining viral titers, the virus blocked the transcription of a subset of nuclear DNA (nDNA)–encoded mitochondrial OXPHOS genes, induced the expression of microRNA 2392, activated HIF-1α to induce glycolysis, and activated host immune defenses including the integrated stress response. In autopsy tissues from patients with COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 was no longer present, and mitochondrial gene transcription had recovered in the lungs. However, nDNA mitochondrial gene expression remained suppressed in autopsy tissue from the heart and, to a lesser extent, kidney, and liver, whereas mitochondrial DNA transcription was induced and host-immune defense pathways were activated. During early SARS-CoV-2 infection of hamsters with peak lung viral load, mitochondrial gene expression in the lung was minimally perturbed but was down-regulated in the cerebellum and up-regulated in the striatum even though no SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the brain. During the mid-phase SARS-CoV-2 infection of mice, mitochondrial gene expression was starting to recover in mouse lungs. These data suggest that when the viral titer first peaks, there is a systemic host response followed by viral suppression of mitochondrial gene transcription and induction of glycolysis leading to the deployment of antiviral immune defenses. Even when the virus was cleared and lung mitochondrial function had recovered, mitochondrial function in the heart, kidney, liver, and lymph nodes remained impaired, potentially leading to severe COVID-19 pathology.
- Immunogenicity, safety, and preliminary efficacy evaluation of OVX836, a nucleoprotein-based universal influenza A vaccine candidate
In this phase 2a, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, we recruited 137 healthy adults aged 18–55 years in a single center in Belgium. Participants were randomly assigned (interactive web response system; block size=4) using SAS (version 9.4) to receive one single intramuscular administration of OVX836 influenza vaccine at three doses (180 μg [n=33], 300 μg [n=35], and 480 μg [n=36]) or placebo (n=33). The two primary endpoints were the safety and the cell-mediated immune response to OVX836 at the three doses in terms of change of nucleoprotein-specific IFNγ spot forming cell (SFC) frequencies in the peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) population, measured by IFNγ ELISpot, at day 8 versus pre-injection baseline (day 1). The population used for the safety analysis is the modified intention-to-treat cohort. The population used for the immunogenicity analysis is the per-protocol cohort. Participants were recruited between Nov 15, 2021, and Feb 1, 2022. OVX836 had a favorable safety profile up to 480 μg without reaching the maximum tolerated dose, and showed a good safety profile at all doses with mild local and systemic reactogenicity. 7 days after vaccination, although no significant differences were observed between the doses, OVX836 increased the frequency of nucleoprotein-specific IFNγ SFCs per million PBMCs from days 1 to 8 (primary endpoint): by 124 SFCs per 106 PMBCs (95% CI 67 to 180; p=0·002) at 180 μg; by 202 SFCs per 106 PMBCs (95% CI 138 to 267; p<0·0001) at 300 μg; by 223 SFCs per 106 PMBCs (95% CI 147 to 299; p<0·0001) at 480 μg; and decreased by 1 SFCs per 106 PMBCs (95% CI –24 to 22] in the placebo group (Kruskal-Wallis test p<0·0001 followed by Mann-Whitney's tests; per-protocol cohort). Dose-dependent and polyfunctional nucleoprotein-specific CD4 T-cell responses were observed, and CD8 T-cell responses were elicited at 300 μg and 480 μg (secondary endpoints). OVX836 appears to be a safe and well tolerated candidate vaccine that elicits humoral and cellular nucleoprotein-specific immune responses (including CD8 T cells at the highest dose levels) and showed a preliminary signal of protection against influenza. Therefore, OVX836 is a promising vaccine candidate for universal influenza A prevention, that warrants further trials.
- Does monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 impact short and long- term outcomes in a large generalizable population?
A sample of 3809 individuals who received MAbs and a matched one-to-one comparison group from a set of 327 079 eligible patients who did not receive MAb treatment were selected from a deidentified administrative data set from commercial and Medicare Advantage health plan enrollees in the USA, including claims and outpatient laboratory data. Individuals who received MAb were 28% less likely to be hospitalised (HR=0.72, 95% CI 0.58 to 0.89) and 41% less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (HR=0.59, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.89) 30 days from SARSCoV-2 diagnosis compared with individuals who did not receive MAb. A higher proportion of individuals given MAb therapy received care for clinical sequelae in the postacute phase (p=0.018). While MAb therapy was associated with benefits in the acute period, the benefit of therapy did not extend into the postacute period and did not reduce risk for clinical sequelae.
- Association between nose picking and SARS-CoV-2 incidence, a cohort study in hospital health care workers
In a cohort study among 404 HCW in two university medical centers in the Netherlands, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies were prospectively measured during the first phase of the pandemic. For this study HCW received an additional retrospective survey regarding behavioral (e.g. nose picking) and physical features. In total 219 HCW completed the survey (response rate 52%), and 34/219 (15.5%) became SARS-CoV-2 seropositive during follow-up from March 2020 till October 2020. The majority of HCW (185/219, 84.5%) reported picking their nose at least incidentally, with frequency varying between monthly, weekly and daily. SARS-CoV-2 incidence was higher in nose picking HCW compared to participants who refrained from nose picking (32/185: 17.3% vs. 2/34: 5.9%, OR 3.80, 95% CI 1.05 to 24.52), adjusted for exposure to COVID-19. No association was observed between nail biting, wearing glasses, or having a beard, and the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Nose picking among HCW is associated with an increased risk of contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Researchers therefore recommend health care facilities to create more awareness, e.g. by educational sessions or implementing recommendations against nose picking in infection prevention guidelines.
- Effect of COVID-19 vaccination and booster on maternal-fetal outcomes: a retrospective cohort stud
COVID-19 in pregnant people increases the risk for poor maternal-fetal outcomes. However, COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy remains due to concerns over the vaccine's potential effects on maternal-fetal outcomes. Here we examine the impact of COVID-19 vaccination and boosters on maternal SARS-CoV-2 infections and birth outcomes. This was a retrospective multicentre cohort study on the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on maternal-fetal outcomes for people who delivered (n=106 428) at Providence St Joseph Health across seven western US states from Jan 26, 2021 to Oct 26, 2022. Cohorts were defined by vaccination status at delivery: vaccinated (n=35 926; two or more doses of mRNA-1273 Moderna or BNT162b2 Pfizer-BioNTech), unvaccinated (n=55 878), unvaccinated propensity score matched (n=16 771), boosted (n=10 927; three or more doses), vaccinated unboosted (n=13 243; two doses only), and vaccinated unboosted with propensity score matching (n=4414). We built supervised machine learning classification models, which we used to determine which people were more likely to be vaccinated or boosted at delivery. The primary outcome was maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection. COVID-19 vaccination status at delivery, COVID-19-related health care, preterm birth, stillbirth, and very low birthweight were evaluated as secondary outcomes. Vaccinated people were more likely to conceive later in the pandemic, have commercial insurance, be older, live in areas with lower household composition vulnerability, and have a higher BMI than unvaccinated people. Boosted people were more likely to have more days since receiving the second COVID-19 vaccine dose, conceive earlier in the pandemic, have commercial insurance, be older, and live in areas with lower household composition vulnerability than vaccinated unboosted people. Vaccinated pregnant people had lower rates of COVID-19 during pregnancy (4·0%) compared with unvaccinated matched people (5·3%; p<0·0001). COVID-19 rates were even lower in boosted people (3·2%) compared with vaccinated unboosted matched people (5·6%; p<0·0001). Vaccinated people were also less likely to have a preterm birth (7·9%; p<0·0001), stillbirth (0·3%; p<0·0002), or very low birthweight neonate (1·0%; p<0·0001) compared with unvaccinated matched people (preterm birth 9·4%; stillbirth 0·6%; very low birthweight 1·5%). Boosted people were less likely to have a stillbirth (0·3%; p<0·025) and have no differences in rates of preterm birth (7·6%; p=0·090) or very low birthweight neonates (0·8%; p=0·092) compared with vaccinated unboosted matched people (stillbirth 0·5%; preterm birth 8·4%; very low birthweight 1·1%). COVID-19 vaccination protects against adverse maternal-fetal outcomes, with booster doses conferring additional protection. Pregnant people should be high priority for vaccination and stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination schedule.
- Persistent endothelial dysfunction in post-COVID-19 syndrome and its associations with symptom severity and chronic inflammation
In this prospective observational cohort study, researchers analyzed the retinal microcirculation using Retinal Vessel Analysis (RVA) in a cohort of patients with PCS and compared it to an age- and gender-matched healthy cohort (n = 41, matched out of n = 204). PCS patients exhibit persistent endothelial dysfunction (ED), as indicated by significantly lower venular flicker-induced dilation (vFID; 3.42% ± 1.77% vs. 4.64% ± 2.59%; p = 0.02), narrower central retinal artery equivalent (CRAE; 178.1 [167.5–190.2] vs. 189.1 [179.4–197.2], p = 0.01) and lower arteriolar-venular ratio (AVR; (0.84 [0.8–0.9] vs. 0.88 [0.8–0.9], p = 0.007). When combining AVR and vFID, predicted scores reached good ability to discriminate groups (area under the curve: 0.75). Higher PCS severity scores correlated with lower AVR (R = − 0.37 p = 0.017). The association of microvascular changes with PCS severity were amplified in PCS patients exhibiting higher levels of inflammatory parameters. These results demonstrate that prolonged endothelial dysfunction is a hallmark of PCS, and impairments of the microcirculation seem to explain ongoing symptoms in patients. As potential therapies for PCS emerge, RVA parameters may become relevant as clinical biomarkers for diagnosis and therapy management.