COVID-19 Immunology: Yale University Led Study Shows That Alpha-Interferon, Inflammasomes and Growth Factors Influence COVID-19 Severity Outcomes
: According to a new study by researchers from Yale University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the differing immune system responses of patients with COVID-19 can help predict who will experience moderate and severe consequences of disease.
The study findings may help identify individuals at high risk of severe illness early in their hospitalization and suggest drugs to treat COVID-19.
The study findings were published in the journal: Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2588-y
The study team examined 113 patients admitted to Yale New Haven Hospital, and analyzed the varying immune system responses they exhibited during their hospital stay, from admittance to discharge or death.
The researchers found that all patients shared a common COVID-19 "signature" in immune system activity early in the course of disease. But those who experienced only moderate symptoms exhibited diminishing immune system responses and viral load over time. Patients who went on to develop severe cases of the disease showed no decrease in viral load or immune system reaction, and many of the immune signals in these patients accelerated.
However even in the early course of treatment, researchers found indicators that predicted which patients were at greatest risk of developing severe forms of the illness.
Senior author Dr Akiko Iwasaki, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute told Thailand Medical News, "We were able to pull out signatures of disease risk."
Scientists had known that the immune system unleashed a massive and damaging "cytokine storm" in severe cases of COVID-19. But the specific elements of the immune system response most responsible for the damage were unknown.
The study analysis found some intriguing links to poor outcomes.
Significantly, said researchers, one risk factor was the presence of alpha interferon
, a cytokine mobilized to combat viral pathogens such as the flu virus. However, COVID-19 patients with high levels of alpha interferon
fared worse than those with low levels.
Dr Iwasaki added, "This virus just doesn't seem to care about alpha interferon. The cytokine appears to be hurting, not helping."
(Thailand Medical News would like readers to take note, in the beginning of the crisis, China was claiming in many of its studies and guidelines that alpha interferon administration to COVID-19 patients would help in the recovery of COVID-19 patients. This protocol was also adopted by certain South-East Asian countries whose stupid doctors merely listens to everything that China says. It reflects how this particular South-East Asian country is claiming to be the medical hub in the region and also that it had managed the COVID-19 crisis well when it reality it was lucky to only be inundated by the milder strains of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the fact that the country was not badly affected has nothing to do with the p
rowess of its healthcare industry.)
From the study, another early prognosticator of poor outcomes is activation of the inflammasome
, a complex of proteins that detects pathogens and triggers an inflammatory response to infection. Inflammasome
activation was linked to poor outcomes and death in several patients.
The study team found that individuals who respond better to the infection tend to express high levels of growth factors
, a type of cytokine that repairs tissue damage to the linings of blood vessels and lungs.
Collectively the data can help predict patients at high risk of poor outcomes, the authors said.
The researchers also said drugs that target specific causes of inflammation identified in the study could help treat patients at risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19.
For more on COVID-19 Immunology
, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.
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