Masood KI, Yameen M, Ashraf J, Shahid S, Mahmood SF, Nasir A, Nasir N, Jamil B, Ghanchi NK, Khanum I, Razzak SA, Kanji A, Hussain R, E Rottenberg M, Hasan Z
Sci Rep 11 (1) 22958 [2021-11-25; online 2021-11-25]
Understanding key host protective mechanisms against SARS-CoV-2 infection can help improve treatment modalities for COVID-19. We used a blood transcriptome approach to study biomarkers associated with differing severity of COVID-19, comparing severe and mild Symptomatic disease with Asymptomatic COVID-19 and uninfected Controls. There was suppression of antigen presentation but upregulation of inflammatory and viral mRNA translation associated pathways in Symptomatic as compared with Asymptomatic cases. In severe COVID-19, CD177 a neutrophil marker, was upregulated while interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) were downregulated. Asymptomatic COVID-19 cases displayed upregulation of ISGs and humoral response genes with downregulation of ICAM3 and TLR8. Compared across the COVID-19 disease spectrum, we found type I interferon (IFN) responses to be significantly upregulated (IFNAR2, IRF2BP1, IRF4, MAVS, SAMHD1, TRIM1), or downregulated (SOCS3, IRF2BP2, IRF2BPL) in Asymptomatic as compared with mild and severe COVID-19, with the dysregulation of an increasing number of ISGs associated with progressive disease. These data suggest that initial early responses against SARS-CoV-2 may be effectively controlled by ISGs. Therefore, we hypothesize that treatment with type I interferons in the early stage of COVID-19 may limit disease progression by limiting SARS-CoV-2 in the host.