The trinity of COVID-19: immunity, inflammation and intervention
Matthew Zirui Tay, Chek Meng Poh, Laurent Rénia, Paul A. MacAry & Lisa F. P. Ng Nature Reviews Immunology volume 20, pages 363–374 (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41577-020-0311-8
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Alongside investigations into the virology of SARS-CoV-2, understanding the fundamental physiological and immunological processes underlying the clinical manifestations of COVID-19 is vital for the identification and rational design of effective therapies. Here, we provide an overview of the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection. We describe the interaction of SARS-CoV-2 with the immune system and the subsequent contribution of dysfunctional immune responses to disease progression. From nascent reports describing SARS-CoV-2, we make inferences on the basis of the parallel pathophysiological and immunological features of the other human coronaviruses targeting the lower respiratory tract — severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Finally, we highlight the implications of these approaches for potential therapeutic interventions that target viral infection and/or immunoregulation.
The evolution of pulmonary pathology in fatal COVID-19 disease: an autopsy study with clinical correlation
Hans Bösmüller et al. Virchows Arch. 2020 Jun 30 : 1–9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7324489/
The pandemia of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused more than 355,000 confirmed deaths worldwide. However, publications on postmortem findings are scarce. We present the pulmonary findings in four cases of fatal COVID-19 with a spectrum of lung pathology reflecting disease course and duration, invasive therapies, and laboratory features. Early disease is characterized by neutrophilic, exudative capillaritis with microthrombosis and high levels of IL-1beta and IL-6. Later stages are associated with diffuse alveolar damage and ongoing intravascular thrombosis in small to medium-sized pulmonary vessels, occasionally with areas of infarction equivalents, accompanied by laboratory features of disseminated intravascular coagulation. In late stages, organizing pneumonia with extensive intra-alveolar proliferation of fibroblasts and marked metaplasia of alveolar epithelium can be observed. Viral RNA is encountered in the lung, with virus particles in endothelial cells and pneumocytes. In many patients, multi-organ failure with severe liver damage sets in finally, possibly as consequence of an early-onset pro-inflammatory cytokine storm and/or thrombotic microangiopathy.
A systematic review of pathological findings in COVID-19: a pathophysiological timeline and possible mechanisms of disease progression
Samuel B. Polak, Inge C. Van Gool, Danielle Cohen, Jan H. von der Thüsen & Judith van Paassen Modern Pathology (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41379-020-0603-3
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, much has been learned regarding its clinical course, prognostic inflammatory markers, disease complications, and mechanical ventilation strategy. Clinically, three stages have been identified based on viral infection, pulmonary involvement with inflammation, and fibrosis. Moreover, low and high elastance phenotypes can be distinguished in mechanically ventilated patients, based on lung mechanics, ventilation-to-perfusion ratio, and CT scans; these two phenotypes have presumed differences in their underlying pathophysiology. Although essential for therapeutic guidance, the pathophysiology of COVID-19 is poorly understood. Here, we systematically reviewed published case reports and case series in order to increase our understanding of COVID-19 pathophysiology by constructing a timeline and correlating histopathological findings with clinical stages of COVID-19. Using PRISMA-IPD guidelines, 42 articles reporting 198 individual cases were included in our analysis. In lung samples (n = 131 cases), we identified three main histological patterns: epithelial (n = 110, 85%), with reactive epithelial changes and DAD; vascular (n = 76, 59%) with microvascular damage, (micro)thrombi, and acute fibrinous and organizing pneumonia; and fibrotic (n = 28, 22%) with interstitial fibrosis. The epithelial and vascular patterns can present in all stages of symptomatic COVID-19, whereas the fibrotic pattern presents starting at ~3 weeks. Moreover, patients can present with more than one pattern, either simultaneously or consecutively. These findings are consistent with knowledge regarding clinical patterns of viral infection, development of hyperinflammation and hypercoagulability, and fibrosis. Close collaboration among medical staff is necessary in order to translate this knowledge and classification of pathophysiological mechanisms into clinical stages of disease in individual patients. Moreover, further research, including histopathological studies, is warranted in order to develop reliable, clinically relevant biomarkers by correlating these pathological findings with laboratory results and radiological findings, thus, increasing our understanding of COVID-19 and facilitating the move to precision medicine for treating patients.