Diffuse alveolar damage patterns reflect the immunological and molecular heterogeneity in fatal COVID-19

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CLAUSSON, Carl-Magnus
SIDDHURAJ, Premkumar
LINDO, Caroline
EBIOMEDICINE, v.83, article ID 104229, 16p, 2022
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Background Severe COVID-19 lung disease exhibits a high degree of spatial and temporal heterogeneity, with different histological features coexisting within a single individual. It is important to capture the disease complexity to support patient management and treatment strategies. We provide spatially decoded analyses on the immunopathology of diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) patterns and factors that modulate immune and structural changes in fatal COVID-19. Methods We spatially quantified the immune and structural cells in exudative, intermediate, and advanced DAD through multiplex immunohistochemistry in autopsy lung tissue of 18 COVID-19 patients. Cytokine profiling, viral, bacteria, and fungi detection, and transcriptome analyses were performed. Findings Spatial DAD progression was associated with expansion of immune cells, macrophages, CD8+ T cells, fibroblasts, and (lymph)angiogenesis. Viral load correlated positively with exudative DAD and negatively with dis-ease/hospital length. In all cases, enteric bacteria were isolated, and Candida parapsilosis in eight cases. Cytokines correlated mainly with macrophages and CD8+T cells. Pro-coagulation and acute repair were enriched pathways in exudative DAD whereas intermediate/advanced DAD had a molecular profile of elevated humoral and innate immune responses and extracellular matrix production. Interpretation Unraveling the spatial and molecular immunopathology of COVID-19 cases exposes the responses to SARS-CoV-2-induced exudative DAD and subsequent immune-modulatory and remodeling changes in proliferative/advanced DAD that occur side-by-side together with secondary infections in the lungs. These complex features have important implications for disease management and the development of novel treatments.
COVID-19, SARS-Cov-2, Immunopathology, Diffuse alveolar damage, Autopsy
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