Dysregulated transcriptional responses to SARS-CoV-2 in the periphery

SARS-CoV-2 infection has been shown to trigger a wide spectrum of immune responses and clinical manifestations in human hosts. Here, we sought to elucidate novel aspects of the host response to SARS-CoV-2 infection through RNA sequencing of peripheral blood samples from 46 subjects with COVID-19 and directly comparing them to subjects with seasonal coronavirus, influenza, bacterial pneumonia, and healthy controls. Early SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers a powerful transcriptomic response in peripheral blood with conserved components that are heavily interferon-driven but also marked by indicators of early B-cell activation and antibody production. Interferon responses during SARS-CoV-2 infection demonstrate unique patterns of dysregulated expression compared to other infectious and healthy states. Heterogeneous activation of coagulation and fibrinolytic pathways are present in early COVID-19, as are IL1 and JAK/STAT signaling pathways, which persist into late disease. Classifiers based on differentially expressed genes accurately distinguished SARS-CoV-2 infection from other acute illnesses (auROC 0.95 [95% CI 0.92–0.98]). The transcriptome in peripheral blood reveals both diverse and conserved components of the immune response in COVID-19 and provides for potential biomarker-based approaches to diagnosis.
Funding Information
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services | NIH | National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (U01AI066569)
  • United States Department of Defense | Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (N66001-09-C-2082)
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (1 I01 CX001850)

This publication has 48 references indexed in Scilit: