Abstract

We herein characterize the immunopathological features of two Italian COVID-19 patients who underwent bilateral lung transplantation (bLTx). Removed lungs underwent histopathological evaluation. Gene expression profiling (GEP) for immune-related signatures was performed on lung specimens and SARS-CoV-2-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Cytokine levels were measured on lungs, bronchoalveolar lavage fluids and in culture supernatants. Pathological assessment showed extensive lung damage with the pattern of proliferative to fibrotic phases, with diffuse alveolar damage mimicking usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP). Lungs' GEP revealed overexpression of pathogen recognition receptors, effector cytokines and chemokines, immune activation receptors and of the inflammasome components. Multiplex cytokine analysis confirmed a proinflammatory state, with high levels of monocyte/macrophage chemotactic and activating factors and of IL-6 and TNF-α. A similar profile was observed in SARS-CoV-2-stimulated PBMCs collected 7 days after transplant. The pattern of tissue damage observed in the lungs suggests that this may represent the output of protracted disease, resembling a diffuse UIP-like picture. The molecular immune profiling supports the paradigm of a persistent proinflammatory state and sustained humoral immunity, conditions that are maintained despite the iatrogenic immunosuppression.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCells
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 10 2021

Keywords

  • ARDS
  • COVID-19
  • immunology
  • lung transplantation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • usual interstitial pneumonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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