Longitudinal immune profiling reveals key myeloid signatures associated with COVID-19.
Mann ER., Menon M., Knight SB., Konkel JE., Jagger C., Shaw TN., Krishnan S., Rattray M., Ustianowski A., Bakerly ND., Dark P., Lord G., Simpson A., Felton T., Ho L-P., NIHR Respiratory TRC, None., Feldmann M., CIRCO, None., Grainger JR., Hussell T.
COVID-19 pathogenesis is associated with an exaggerated immune response. However, the specific cellular mediators and inflammatory components driving diverse clinical disease outcomes remain poorly understood. We undertook longitudinal immune profiling on both whole blood and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of hospitalized patients during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Here, we report key immune signatures present shortly after hospital admission that were associated with the severity of COVID-19. Immune signatures were related to shifts in neutrophil to T cell ratio, elevated serum IL-6, MCP-1 and IP-10, and most strikingly, modulation of CD14+ monocyte phenotype and function. Modified features of CD14+ monocytes included poor induction of the prostaglandin-producing enzyme, COX-2, as well as enhanced expression of the cell cycle marker Ki-67. Longitudinal analysis revealed reversion of some immune features back to the healthy median level in patients with a good eventual outcome. These findings identify previously unappreciated alterations in the innate immune compartment of COVID-19 patients and lend support to the idea that therapeutic strategies targeting release of myeloid cells from bone marrow should be considered in this disease. Moreover, they demonstrate that features of an exaggerated immune response are present early after hospital admission suggesting immune-modulating therapies would be most beneficial at early timepoints.