In December 2019, China reported the first cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This disease, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has developed into a pandemic. To date it has resulted in ~5.6 million confirmed cases and caused 353,334 related deaths worldwide. Unequivocally, the COVID-19 pandemic is the gravest health and socio-economic crisis of our time. In this context, numerous questions have emerged in demand of basic scientific information and evidence-based medical advice on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. Although the majority of the patients show a very mild, self-limiting viral respiratory disease, many clinical manifestations in severe patients are unique to COVID-19, such as severe lymphopenia and eosinopenia, extensive pneumonia, a “cytokine storm” leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome, endothelitis, thrombo-embolic complications and multiorgan failure. The epidemiologic features of COVID-19 are distinctive and have changed throughout the pandemic. Vaccine and drug development studies and clinical trials are rapidly growing at an unprecedented speed. However, basic and clinical research on COVID-19-related topics should be based on more coordinated high-quality studies. This paper answers pressing questions, formulated by young clinicians and scientists, on SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and allergy, focusing on the following topics: virology, immunology, diagnosis, management of patients with allergic disease and asthma, treatment, clinical trials, drug discovery, vaccine development and epidemiology. Over 140 questions were answered by experts in the field providing a comprehensive and practical overview of COVID-19 and allergic disease.
Following the emergency use authorization of the vaccine mRNA-1273 on 18th December 2020 in the US and the vaccine BNT162b2 one week earlier, two mRNA vaccines are in currently used for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Phase 3 pivotal trials on both vaccines excluded individuals with a history of allergy to vaccine components. Immediately after the initiation of vaccination in the United Kingdom, Canada, and in the US, anaphylactic reactions have been reported. While the culprit trigger requires investigation, initial reports suggested the excipient polyethylene glycol 2000 (PEG-2000), which is contained in both vaccines as PEG-micellar carrier system as the potential culprit. Surface PEG chains form a hydrate shell to increase stability and prevent opsonization. Allergic reactions to such PEG-ylated lipids are rarely IgE-mediated, but may result from complement activation-related pseudoallergy (CARPA) that has been described to similar liposomes. In addition, mRNA-1273 also contains tromethamine (trometamol), which has been reported to cause anaphylaxis to e.g. gadolinium-based or iodinated contrast media. Skin prick-, intradermal-, epicutaneous- tests, in vitro sIgE assessment, evaluation of sIgG/IgM, as well as basophil activation test are in use to demonstrate allergic reactions to various components of the vaccines.
To the Editor Since the end of February 2020 Italy, first non- Asian Country, has reported an ever increasing number of COronaVIrus Disease 19 (COVID-19) patients, which has reached over 200,000 confirmed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infected subjects and resulted in more than 34000 deaths (data updated to June 19th, 20201).Patients with asthma are potentially more severely affected by by SARS-CoV-2 infection 2 and it is well established that respiratory viral infections are associated with severe adverse outcomes in patients with asthma, including increased risk of asthma exacerbation episodes 3. Nonetheless, according to the epidemiological studies published so far, chronic pulmonary diseases are not amongst the most common clinical conditions in COVID-19 patients4About 5-10% of entire asthma population, are severe asthmatics5 and one would expect increased vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2 infection, but no data is so fare available ti confirm this hypothesis.We investigated the incidence of COVID-19, describing its clinical course, in the population of the Severe Asthma Network in Italy (SANI), one of the largest registry for severe asthma worldwide6, and in an additional Center (Azienda Ospedaliero Univeristaria di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy). All centers, have been contacted and inquired to report confirmed (i.e. patients with positive test result for the virus SARS-CoV-2 from analysis of nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimens) or highly suspect cases of COVID-19 (i.e. patients with symptoms, laboratory findings and lung imaging typical of COVID-19 but without access to nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimens because of clinical contingencies/emergency) among their cohorts of severe asthma. Demographic and clinical data of the entire cohort of severe asthmatics enrolled in the study and all reported cases of confirmed or suspect cases of COVID-19, have been obtained from the registry platform and collected from the additional Center. Additional data about COVID-19 symptoms, treatment and clinical course have been collected for all cases reported.Ethical issues and statistical analysis are reported in the online supplementary material.Twenty-six (1.73%) out of 1504 severe asthmatics had confirmed (11 out of 26) or highly suspect COVID-19 (15 out 26); eighteen (69.2%) were females and mean age was 56.2 ± 10 years. The geographical distribution of COVID-19 cases is presented in Figure 1.Nine (34.6%) infected patients experienced worsening of asthma during the COVID-19 symptomatic period; four of them needed a short course of oral corticosteroids for controlling asthma exacerbation symptoms.The most frequent COVID-19 symptoms reported were fever (100% of patients), malaise (84.6%), cough (80.8%), dyspnea (80.8%), headache (42.3%) and loss of smell (42.3%). Four patients (15.3%) have been hospitalized, one of which in intensive care unit; among hospitalized patients, two (7.7%) died for COVID-19 interstitial pneumonia. No deaths have been reported among the non-hospitalized patients.Severe asthmatics affected by COVID-19, had a significantly higher prevalence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) compared to non-infected severe asthma patients (15.4% vs 3.8%, p=0.002; odds ratio: 4.7). No difference was found in other comorbidities (including rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis with or without nasal polyps, bronchiectasis, obesity, gastroesophageal reflux, arterial hypertension, cardiovascular diseases).Twenty-one patients with COVID-19 were on biological treatments: 15 (71%) were on anti-IL-5 or anti-IL5R agents (Mepolizumab n= 13; Benralizumab n=2 - counting for the 2.9% of all severe asthmatics treated with anti-IL5 in our study population) and 6 (29%) were on anti IgE (Omalizumab - 1.3% of all severe asthmatics treated with omalizumab in our study population).Table I summarizes demographic and clinical characteristics of the 26 COVID-19 patients.In conclusion, in our large cohort of severe asthmatics, COVID-19 was infrequent, not supporting the concept of asthma as a particularly susceptible condition to SARS-COV2 infection 2. This is in line with the first published large epidemiological data on COVID-19 patients, in which asthma is under-reported as comorbidity4. The COVID-19 related mortality rate in our cohort of patients was 7.7%, lower than the COVID-19 mortality rate in the general population (14.5% in Italy 1). These findings suggest that severe asthmatics are not at high risk of the SARS-CoV-2 infection and of severe forms of COVID-19. There are potentially different reasons for this. Self-containment is the first, because of the awareness of virus infections acting as a trigger for exacerbations, and therefore they could have acted with greater caution, scrupulously respecting social distancing, lockdown and hygiene rules of prevention, and being more careful in regularly taking asthma medications.Another possible explanation stands in the intrinsic features of type-2 inflammation, that characterizes a great proportion of severe asthmatics. Respiratory allergies and controlled allergen exposures are associated with significant reduction in angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) expression 7, the cellular receptor for SARS-CoV-2. Interestingly, ACE2 and Transmembrane Serine Protease 2 (TMPRSS2) (another protein mediating SARS-CoV-2 cell entry) have been found highly expressed in asthmatics with concomitant NIDDM8, the only comorbidity that was more frequent reported in our COVID-19 severe asthmatics.The third possible explanation refers to the possibility that inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) might prevent or mitigate the development of Coronaviruses infections. By definition, patients with severe asthma are treated with high doses of ICS 5 and this may have had a protective effect for SARS-CoV-2 infection.Noteworthy, among the patients of our case-series of severe asthmatics with COVID-19, the proportion of those treated anti-IL5 biologics was higher (71%) compared to the number of patients treated with anti-IgE (29%). Although the number of cases is too small to draw any conclusion, it is tempting to speculate that different biological treatments can have specific and different impact on antiviral immune response. In addition we may speculate of the consequence of blood eosinophils reduction: eosinopenia has been reported in 52-90% of COVID-19 patients worldwide and it has been suggested as a risk factor for more severe COVID-19 9.In conclusion, in our large cohort of severe asthmatics only a small minority experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and these patients had peculiar clinical features including high prevalence of NIDDM as comorbidity. Further real-life registry-based studies are needed to confirm our findings and to extend the evidence that severe asthmatics are at low risk of developing COVID-19.
Background Vaccines that incorporate multiple SARS-CoV-2 antigens can further broaden the breadth of virus-specific cellular and humoral immunity. This study describes the development and immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 VLP vaccine that incorporates the 4 structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2. Methods VLPs were generated in transiently transfected HEK293 cells, purified by multimodal chromatography and characterized by tunable resistive pulse sensing, AFM, SEM, and TEM. Immunoblotting studies verified the protein identities of VLPs. Cellular and humoral immune responses of immunized animals demonstrated the immune potency of the formulated VLP vaccine. Results Transiently transfected HEK293 cells reproducibly generated vesicular VLPs that were similar in size to and expressing all four structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2. Alum adsorbed, K3-CpG ODN adjuvanted VLPs elicited high titer anti-S, anti-RBD, anti-N IgG, triggered multifunctional Th1 biased T cell responses, reduced virus load and prevented lung pathology upon live virus challenge in vaccinated animals. Conclusion These data suggest that VLPs expressing all four structural protein antigens of SARS-CoV-2 are immunogenic and can protect animals from developing COVID-19 infection following vaccination.
Background: Serological tests are a powerful tool in the monitoring of infectious diseases and the detection of host immunity. However, manufacturers often provide diagnostic accuracy data generated through biased studies and the performance in clinical practice is essentially unclear. Objectives: We aimed to determine the diagnostic accuracy of various serological testing strategies for (a) identification of patients with previous coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) and (b) prediction of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in real-life clinical settings. Methods: We prospectively included 2’573 consecutive health-care workers and 1’085 inpatients with suspected or possible previous COVID-19 at a Swiss University Hospital. Various serological immunoassays based on different analytical techniques (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, ELISA; chemiluminescence immunoassay, CLIA; electrochemiluminescence immunoassay, ECLIA; lateral-flow immunoassay, LFI), epitopes of SARS-CoV-2 (nucleocapsid, N; receptor-binding domain, RBD; extended RBD, RBD+; S1 or S2 domain of the spike [S] protein, S1/S2), and antibody subtypes (IgG, pan-Ig) were conducted. A positive real-time PCR test from a nasopharyngeal swab was defined as previous COVID-19. Neutralization assays with live SARS-CoV-2 were performed in a subgroup of patients to assess neutralization activity (n=201). Results: The sensitivity to detect patients with previous COVID-19 was ≥85% in anti-N ECLIA (86.8%) and anti-S1 ELISA (86.2%). Sensitivity was 84.7% in anti-S1/S2 CLIA, 84.0% in anti-RBD+ LFI, 81.0% in anti-N CLIA, 79.2% in anti-RBD ELISA, and 65.6% in anti-N ELISA. The specificity was 98.4% in anti-N ECLIA, 98.3% in anti-N CLIA, 98.2% in anti-S1 ELISA, 97.7% in anti-N ELISA, 97.6% in anti-S1/S2 CLIA, 97.2% in anti-RBD ELISA, and 96.1% in anti-RBD+ LFI. The sensitivity to detect neutralizing antibodies was ≥85% in anti-S1 ELISA (92.7%), anti-N ECLIA (91.7%), anti-S1/S2 CLIA (90.3%), anti-RBD+ LFI (87.9%), and anti-RBD ELISA (85.8%). Sensitivity was 84.1% in anti-N CLIA, and 66.2% in anti-N ELISA. The specificity was ≥97% in anti-N CLIA (100%), anti-S1/S2 CLIA (97.7%), and anti-RBD+ LFI (97.9%). Specificity was 95.9% in anti-RBD ELISA, 93.0% in anti-N ECLIA, 92% in anti-S1 ELISA, and 65.3% in anti-N ELISA. Diagnostic accuracy measures were consistent among subgroups. Conclusions: The diagnostic accuracy of serological tests for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies varied remarkably in clinical practice, and the sensitivity to identify patients with previous COVID-19 deviated substantially from the manufacturer’s specifications. The data presented here should be considered when using such tests to estimate the infection burden within a specific population and determine the likelihood of protection against re-infection.
Background. First vaccines for prevention of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are becoming available but there is a huge and unmet need for specific forms of treatment. In this study we aimed to evaluate the potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 effect of siRNA both in vitro and in vivo. Methods. To identify most effective molecule out of a panel of 15 in silico designed siRNAs, an in vitro screening system based on vectors expressing SARS-CoV-2 genes fused with the firefly luciferase reporter gene and SARS-CoV-2-infected cells was used. The most potent siRNA, siR-7, was modified by Locked nucleic acids (LNAs) to obtain siR-7-EM with increased stability and was formulated with the peptide dendrimer KK-46 for enhancing cellular uptake to allow topical application by inhalation of the final formulation - siR-7-EM/KK-46. Using the Syrian Hamster model for SARS-CoV-2 infection the antiviral capacity of siR-7-EM/KK-46 complex was evaluated. Results. We identified the siRNA, siR-7, targeting SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) as the most efficient siRNA inhibiting viral replication in vitro. Moreover, we have shown that LNA-modification and complexation with the designed peptide dendrimer enhanced the antiviral capacity of siR-7 in vitro. We demonstrated significant reduction of virus titer and total lung inflammation in the animals exposed by inhalation of siR-7-EM/KK-46 in vivo. Conclusions. Thus, we developed a therapeutic strategy for COVID-19 based on inhalation of a modified siRNA-peptide dendrimer formulation.
To the Editor, Sulforaphane [1-isothiocyanato-4-(methylsulfinyl)butane] is a clinically relevant nutraceutical compound present in cruciferous vegetables (Brassicaceae). It is used for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and may be involved in ageing.1Along with other natural nutrients, sulforaphane has been suggested to have a therapeutic value for the treatment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).2 Sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate stored in its inactive form glucoraphanin.3 The enzyme myrosinase, found in plant tissue and in the gut microbiome, is involved in the conversion of glucoraphanin to its active form sulforaphane.4
Background Currently, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become pandemic globally. 10-20% of the cases are severe and more than 397,000 deaths have occurred. The risk factors for the mortality of critically ill COVID-19 patients remain to be elucidated. Conclusions Survived severe and non-survived COVID-19 patients had distinct clinical and laboratory characteristics, which were separated by principle component analysis. Logistic regression revealed several risk factors such as elder age, greater affected lobe numbers and higher level of serum CRP for the mortality of severe COVID-19 patients. Longitudinal changes of laboratory findings indicate the advancement of the disease and may be helpful in predicting the progression of severe patients.
The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused an unprecedented global social and economic impact, and numerous deaths. Many risk factors have been identified in the progression of COVID-19 into a severe and critical stage, including old age, male gender, underlying comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease, heart, liver and kidney diseases, tumors, clinically apparent immunodeficiencies, local immunodeficiencies, such as early type-I interferon secretion capacity, and pregnancy. Possible complications include acute respiratory distress syndrome, shock, disseminated coagulopathy, acute kidney injury, pulmonary embolism, and secondary bacterial pneumonia. The development of lymphopenia and eosinopenia are laboratory indicators of COVID-19. Laboratory parameters to monitor disease progression include lactate dehydrogenase, procalcitonin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1, Krebs von den Lungen-6 (KL-6) and ferritin. The development of a cytokine storm and extensive chest computed tomography imaging patterns are indicators of a severe disease. In addition, socioeconomic status, diet, lifestyle, geographical differences, ethnicity, exposed viral load, day of initiation of treatment, and quality of health care have been reported to influence individual outcomes. In this review, we highlight the scientific evidence on the risk factors of COVID-19.
EDITORIAL The average global temperatures on our planet are increasing due to rising anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2).1,2 There is an urgent need to call for action on global warming, which is resulting in extreme weather and related catastrophes.1 ,2 The Earth’s rising temperature is evidenced by warming of the oceans, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and the diminished snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. Climate-related factors can affect interactive atmospheric components (chemical and biological) and their interrelationship with human health.Climate change, a physics and meteorological event that affects health in the whole biosphere started to receive attention around the mid-twentieth century. Air pollution is the driving force of the Earth’s warming powered by the greenhouse effect (Figure 1). Environmental changes are occurring in frequency, intensity, type of precipitation, and extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, blizzards, thunderstorms, sandstorms, and hurricanes. These are real and daunting challenges for the human and biosphere health, impacting the food and water supplies.1 ,2 Urbanization, with its high level of vehicle emissions and westernized lifestyle, is linked to the rising levels of particulate matter in the air, food supplies, soil, freshwater, and oceans. These environmental changes are correlated with the increased frequency of respiratory allergic diseases and bronchial asthma observed over recent decades in most industrialized countries and is continuously rising in developing countries.1-5This issue of Allergy focuses on the interrelationship between climate change, air pollution and human health.3-7Climate change is an important medical aspect in allergology as we are observing an increasing incidence of allergic diseases indirectly related to rising temperatures and are becoming a high socio-economic burden.1-3,8 Allergies and asthma appear to be at the front line of the sequelae of climate change along with infectious and cardiovascular diseases.1,5Cecchi et al. focus on the development and exacerbation of allergic diseases can be explained in terms of the exposome, a concept that includes all the environmental exposures from conception onwards. Multiple factors can trigger a pollen-induced respiratory allergy, such as airborne endotoxin levels and microbial composition of pollen, and these comprise a “pollen exposome”.4,9Susan Prescott has written an editorial in this issue bringing the attention to climate change and bidiversity aspects. At the time of Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing 50 years ago, Prof. Rene Dubos, a renowned microbiologist, delivered the seminal lecture “The Spaceship Earth”. He was ahead of his time and warned of an “altered immunity” driven by environmental problems and loss of biodiversity. Most of his predictions proved correct and we are now understanding at a molecular level the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in allergic diseases.8Climate change indirectly affects allergies by altering the pollen concentrations, allergenic potential, composition, migration of species and growth of new ones. Air pollution and climate change have resulted in the faster growth of allergenic plants, increasing the aeroallergen load for patients with inhalant allergy. Phenological studies indicate longer pollen seasons and emerge earlier in the year.1,4,5,8 Pollen and mold allergies are generally used to evaluate the interrelationship between air pollution and allergic respiratory diseases, such as rhinitis and asthma. Studies show that plants exhibit enhanced photosynthesis and reproductive effects and produce more pollen as a response to high atmospheric levels of CO2. 1,4,8 Pollen allergens have been demonstrated to trigger the release of pro-inflammatory and immunomodulatory mediators that accelerate the onset of allergy and the IgE-mediated sensitization. Lightning storms or wet conditions rupture the pollen grains releasing the allergenic proteins that cause asthma exacerbations in patients with pollinosis (thunderstorm-asthma).1,3,4,7,10 As a result of climate change, patients with seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma have more intense symptoms and need stronger medication.1,4,8 In addition to respiratory illnesses, Fairweather et al. demonstrate the effect of environmental changes on cardiovascular, brain and mind, gastrointestinal, skin, immunologic and metabolic effects.1,3,4,7 The migration of stinging and biting insects to cooler climates has caused an increase in insect allergies in those areas.Prunicki et al. focus on the contribution of wildfires and deforestation and their contribution to global warming and immunological effects. It should be noted that in the last fifty years, half of the pluvial forests on Earth have been lost. Deforestation and forestation degradation is estimated to occur at a rate of 13 million hectares per year, mostly for agricultural purposes. Wildfires are becoming increasingly frequent, posing a serious risk to human health. The fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in wildfire smoke exacerbates asthma attacks, among other health problems. A study of 67 subjects demonstrated that those exposed to wildfire smoke had significantly higher levels of C-reactive protein and IL-1β compared with controls.6 The elevated levels of these two biomarkers are indicative of airway inflammation.Global warming and climate change need actions throughout the whole world with joined forces of all capabilities. These efforts are sometimes hampered by the unresponsiveness of governmental institutions and the general population, the lack of infrastructure and poverty. An action plan is needed to disseminate information on health-related problems associated with climate change. Patients with pollen allergies or asthma should be educated on the higher health risk during a thunderstorm or pollen season and the need for appropriate medication if staying outdoors. In collaboration with environmental organizations, physicians should take the lead to promote actions to mitigate air pollution and advocate the need to reduce global warming to protect our health.
Long Term Disruption of Cytokine Signalling Networks are Evident Following SARS-CoV-2 InfectionSinead Ahearn-Ford1, Nonhlanhla Lunjani1, Brian McSharry1,2, John MacSharry1,2,3, Liam Fanning1,3, Gerard Murphy4, Cormac Everard4, Aoife Barry4, Aimee McGreal4, Sultan Mohamed al Lawati4, Susan Lapthorne4, Colin Sherlock4, Anna McKeogh4, Arthur Jackson4, Eamonn Faller4, Mary Horgan3,4, Corinna Sadlier4, Liam O’Mahony1,2,3*1APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland2School of Microbiology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland3Department of Medicine, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland4 Department of Infectious Diseases, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland*Corresponding author – [email protected] the Editor,The current pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has so far infected more than 130 million people worldwide, resulting in approximately 3 million deaths. While the current clinical and public health priorities are designed to limit severe acute and fatal episodes of the disease, and to quickly roll out vaccines to the general population, it has become apparent that there may also be significant detrimental long-term effects following SARS-CoV-2 infection that impact daily functioning and quality of life1. The mechanisms underpinning the post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection’s long-lasting symptoms can include direct effects of the infection (e.g. endothelial damage, lung fibrosis) or indirect effects associated with changes in the microbiome or abnormalities in inflammatory and immune signalling pathways stimulated by the infection2,3.In order to examine the potential long-term immune changes that occur following elimination of the primary infection, we examined the levels of 52 cytokines and growth factors (using MSD multiplex kits) in the serum of patients that attended follow-up post-COVID infection clinics at Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland (The Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals approved this study and all patients provided informed consent). All patients had been hospitalised for PCR-proven SARS-CoV-2 infection (median in-patient stay of 5.5 days, range 1 day to 24 days) during the first wave of the pandemic in Ireland (March-May 2020). 38 serum samples were obtained from 24 patients (median age 53.5 years, 11 female) at 3-9 months following hospital discharge. Clinical severity ranged from mild to critical during hospitalisation and the most common symptoms at follow-up clinics were fatigue and/or dyspnoea (supplementary Table S1). Sera obtained prior to the pandemic from 29 healthy volunteers (median age 43.2 years, 14 female) were analysed in parallel.Of the 52 analytes measured, 19 were significantly elevated in post-COVID patient sera compared to healthy controls (supplementary Table S2). These 19 mediators are illustrated as dot plots in Figure 1 and Figure 2. One group of mediators, c-reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid A (SAA), Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), IL-6, IL-8, IL-15, IL-16, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 and MCP-4, can be broadly categorised as being associated with ongoing inflammatory responses (Figure 1a)4. These mediators remained as elevated in samples taken 6-9 months following hospital discharge as those levels observed 3-6 months following discharge (p<0.05 versus controls, ANOVA). A second group of mediators, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A), soluble tyrosine-protein kinase receptor Tie-2 (Tie-2), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), can be generally associated with endothelial dysfunction, remodelling and angiogenesis (Figure 1b)5. The remaining elevated mediators are associated with patterns of lymphocyte polarisation. Elevated IL-4, macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC) and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) sera levels indicate activation of TH2 responses (Figure 2a), while IL-17A, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-3α and IL-12/23p40 indicate ongoing TH17 activity (Figure 2b). Other indicators of TH2-associated activities are just outside statistical significance (IL-5, p=0.06; supplementary Table S2). While TH1 responses are well described to be upregulated during acute infection6, the levels of these mediators (e.g. IFN-γ, IP-10) decrease following elimination of the virus and are at control levels in our cohort of post-COVID patients (supplementary Table S2).Our data suggests that there are long term immunological consequences following SARS-CoV-2 infection, at least in those that had acute symptoms severe enough to require hospitalisation. While the relatively low number of patients included in our study at this stage does not allow us to perform subgroup analysis, it is possible that these immune mediators may associate with clinically meaningful disease variables and ultimately may be of therapeutic value, if findings are replicated in future studies. Of particular interest is the elevation in TH2-associated mediators. Could this response be a component of the mucosal repair mechanisms that occur following viral damage, or does this indicate new TH2-associated pathological immune activity that might underpin an increased risk of developing allergy or asthma? Clearly the potential immune mechanisms underpinning the emerging post-COVID clinical entities will become increasingly more important to understand as the health care systems adapt to caring for large numbers of COVID-19 survivors during the coming months and years.
Sweet syndrome induced by SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccineAS Darrigade, MD1, H Théophile, MD2, P Sanchez-Pena, MD2, B Milpied, MD1, M Colbert4, MD, S Pedeboscq5, MD, T Pistone6, MD, ML Jullié, MD7, J Seneschal, MD, PhD1,31 : Department of Adult and Pediatric Dermatology, Bordeaux University Hospitals, France2 : Department of pharmacovigilancy, Bordeaux University Hospitals, France3 : Research Unit INSERM U10354 : Department of geriatry, Clinic Bordeaux Nord, Bordeaux, France5 : Department of pharmacology, Bordeaux University Hospitals, France6: Department of infectious disease, Bordeaux University Hospitals, France7: Department of anatomopathology, Bordeaux University Hospitals, FranceManuscript word count: 607Key words : sweet syndrome, SARS-CoV-2, Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine, delayed hypersensitivity, IDRCorresponding author: A.S. Darrigade, Dermatology Department, Saint-André Hospital, 1, rue Jean Burguet 33000 Bordeaux, FrancePhone: +33556794705Fax: [email protected] source: No financial disclosuresFinancial Disclosure: No external funding for this manuscriptTo the editor,A 45-year-old woman, without any past medical history or allergy presented in our clinic with a rapid onset of diffuse skin eruptions. Five days earlier, she received the first injection of the SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA. Concomitantly she took 1000mg paracetamol to prevent any post-vaccination syndrome. She well tolerated the preceding vaccines (influenza every year) before this one.The eruption started 24h after vaccine injection and was composed at time of the clinical exam of erythematous infiltrated papulosis located all over the body, without face involvement (Figure 1). No other extracutaneous symptoms were noted. Blood exams showed increased blood count levels with increased neutrophils count (8.77G/l), hepatic cytolysis (AST 67UI/L and ALT 116UI/l) with high level of PCR (115mg/l). SARS-CoV-2 PCR test and serology were negative. Viral tests for EBV, CMV, parvovirus B19, and Herpes simplex/Herpes zoster showed only a slight EBV reactivation. Histopathological examination of the skin biopsy showed a hyperplastic epidermis with an edematous papillary dermis. A superficial and deep dermal perivascular, periadnexal and interstitial dense infiltrate composed of neutrophils, eosinophils and lymphocytes was also a feature. Leukocytoclastic vasculitis was also seen (Figure 2A-2B). Clinical and pathological exams were compatible with the diagnosis of SS induced by SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. Systemic steroid therapy (prednisone 0.5mg/kg/d) for five days was started and led to rapid improvement of the skin condition without any recurrence after treatment discontinuation. She did not receive the second vaccine injection.Patch-tests performed (14 days after steroid treatment stop, one month after SS) on both on healed and normal skin with pur SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine prepared less than 4 hours before were negative (Figure 1C 2-3). Then, intradermoreaction (IDR) with vaccine diluted at 1/10 on normal skin was positive in delayed reading (Figure 1C 1). Cutaneous biopsy was realized on the positive IDR reaction, showing an abundant inflammatory infiltrate predominantly with lymphocytes (Figure 2C).Cutaneous reactions after vaccine injection are rare, and heterogenous1. They could be related to the vaccine or the adjuvant. In addition, vaccine could trigger flares of chronic inflammatory conditions as it was previously reported1. At that time, minor local side effects are reported with SARS-CoV-2 vaccines such as pain, swelling or redness; hypersensitivity reactions were anaphylactic reaction but no severe delayed hypersensitivity are reported2-3. Three cases of acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis are reported in the international bank of WHO, one in United Kingdom, one in United States of America and our case. Under SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine four cases of vasculitis had been reported after injection. In France one case of relapse of neutrophilic disorder was reported one day after SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. The adjuvant associated with the SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine is polyethylene glycol (PEG) 20003. However our patient never received infusion containing PEG or polysorbate before. Patch-tests with PEG or polysorbate alone were not performed because of the negativity of the patch-test with the SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. Only 10 cases of SS induced by vaccine are published so far including: 3 with seasonal influenza, 1 with influenza A, 2 with pneumococcal, 2 tuberculosis, 2 small pox4. SS is an acute inflammatory skin disease associated with important infiltration of neutrophils. Leukocytoclastic vasculitis could be present in SS5. One case of SS in a patient receiving pneumococcal vaccine showed the presence of dermal vasculitis associated with infiltration of neutrophils6. In case of anaphylactic reaction under SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine, the risk of relapse with the Moderna SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine or SARS-CoV-2 vaccines with an adenovirus carrier and protein subunit remains unknown3, in case of SS even more.To conclude we report the first case of SS induce by SARS-CoV-2 Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine confirmed by positive IDR.
This systematic review evaluates the efficacy and safety of biologicals for chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) compared to the standard of care. Pubmed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library were searched for RCTs. Critical and important CRSwNP-related outcomes were considered. The risk of bias and the certainty of the evidence were assessed using GRADE. RCTs evaluated (dupilumab-2, omalizumab-4, mepolizumab-2, reslizumab-1) included 1236 adults, with follow-up 20-64 weeks. Dupilumab reduces the need for surgery (NFS) and oral corticosteroid (OCS) use (RR 0.28; 95%CI 0.20-0.39, moderate certainty) and improves with high certainty smell (mean difference (MD) +10.54; 95%CI +9.24 to +11.84) and quality of life (QoL) (MD -19.14; 95%CI -22.80 to -15.47), with fewer treatment-related adverse events (TAEs) (RR 0.95; 95%CI 0.89-1.02, moderate certainty). Omalizumab reduces NFS (RR 0.85; 95%CI 0.78 to 0.92, high certainty), decreases OCS use (RR 0.38; 95%CI 0.10-1.38, moderate certainty), improves with high certainty smell (MD +3.84; 95%CI +3.64 to +4.04) and QoL (MD -15.65; 95%CI -16.16 to -15.13), with increased TAE (RR 1.73; 95%CI 0.60-5.03, moderate certainty). There is low certainty for mepolizumab reducing NFS (RR 0.78; 95%CI 0.64 to 0.94) and improving QoL (MD -13.3; 95% CI -23.93 to -2.67) and smell (MD +0.7; 95%CI -0.48 to +1.88), with increased TAEs (RR 1.64; 95%CI 0.41-6.50). The evidence for reslizumab is very uncertain.
Background Protecting the skin barrier in early infancy may prevent atopic dermatitis (AD). We investigated if daily emollient use from birth to 2 months reduced AD incidence in high risk infants at 12 months. Methods This was a single-center, two-armed, investigator-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trial (NCT03871998). Term infants identified as high risk for AD (parental history of AD, asthma or allergic rhinitis) were recruited within 4 days of birth and randomised 1:1 to either twice-daily emollient application for the first 8 weeks of life (intervention group), using an emollient specifically formulated for very dry, AD-prone skin, or to standard routine skin care (control group). The primary outcome was cumulative AD incidence at 12 months. AD <6 months was diagnosed based on clinical presence of AD. The UK Working Party Diagnostic Criteria were applied when diagnosing AD between 6 and 12 months. Results 321 infants were randomised (161 intervention and 160 control), with 61 withdrawals (41 intervention, 20 control). The cumulative incidence of AD at 12 months was 32.8% in the intervention group vs. 46.4% in the control group, p = 0.036 [Relative risk (95%CI): 0.707 (0.516, 0.965)]. One infant in the intervention group was withdrawn from the study following development of a rash that had a potential relationship with the emollient. There was no significant difference in the incidence of skin infections between the intervention and control groups during the intervention period (5.0% vs. 5.7%, P>0.05). Conclusions This study has demonstrated that early initiation of daily specialized emollient use until 2 months reduces the incidence of AD in the first year of life in high-risk infants.
To the Editor, Severe asthma (SA) is a chronic disease affecting around 3-8% of adult asthma population in Europe, with the refractory form estimated to occur in 0.1% of the general population (1,2). SA is characterized by increased use of healthcare resources (i.e. emergency room/hospital admissions, access to intensive care units (ICU), use of biologics) due to exacerbations compared to the less severe form. In the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, there is an ongoing debate on the role of asthma and use of immunomodulating drugs, like corticosteroids and biologics, on COVID-19 outcomes. According to available data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, asthma seems to play little role on the clinical severity or access to health resources, unlike other chronic conditions such as hypertension, obesity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3). However, to date, no information is available on the burden of SA on COVID-19 severity and hospitalization rates.A questionnaire was submitted to the Italian Registry of Severe Asthma (IRSA) network (4), assessing the prevalence and clinical characteristics of patients with SA who contracted COVID-19 during the outbreak in Italy (February 24th - May 18th 2020), and 41 out of 78 centers distributed evenly among different Italian regions participated to the survey (Figure 1a).Among the 558 subjects surveyed, 7 subjects contracted COVID-19 (1.25% of the national sample), with an average age of 54.5 years: 5 isolated at home/received home care (71.5%), while 2 subjects were admitted to the hospital (28.5%), none required accessed to ICU and no deaths were reported. All COVID-19 subjects with SA came from 2 regions of Northern Italy (6 Lombardy, 1 Emilia-Romagna, 3.7% of the regional population), all showing one or more comorbidities, and were treated with high-dose inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting beta-2 agonists (ICS-LABA) and biologics (see Table 1).We then compared our results with data provided by the Italian Department for Civil Protection in the same time period from the affected geographic areas (5), and we observed that the frequency of COVID-19 among subjects referred to IRSA centers strongly correlated with the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the corresponding province (Figure 1b). Furthermore, the hospitalization rate in COVID-19-SA subjects was not significantly different from the general population (24.1%, 23.6-24.6 95% C.I.; p=0.25, Chi-squared test). Lastly, we could not observe a significantly increased COVID-19 frequency in subjects undergoing high-dose ICS-LABA and biologics compared to SA treated with ICS-LABA alone (p=0.09, Fisher exact test).These findings from the IRSA registry offer some insights on the susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection, access to healthcare resources and mortality by SA patients.Given the low prevalence of SA in Italy (2), we expected less COVID-19-SA cases per region than what reported by the IRSA survey. However, we observed that the geographic location of COVID-19-SA patients mostly reflected the bimodal distribution of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, mainly clustered in Lombardy and neighboring regions, where the highest cumulative COVID-19 cases were recorded (>500/100000 cases per inhabitants) (5). In these areas, the prevalence of positive cases by province also strongly correlated with the frequency of COVID-19-SA patients observed in each IRSA center (Figure 1b), suggesting that patients with SA most likely contract the infection when high circulation of the virus within the area of residence is present. The lack of positive cases reported in Southern regions further proves this hypothesis, and demonstrates the efficacy of the lockdown measures adopted to contain the further spread of the virus.Our results also suggest no increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in SA treated with biologics compared to ICS-LABA alone. Although there is currently no strong evidence that biologics used in asthma might affect the risk of contracting COVID-19, new evidence suggests a protective effect of inhaled corticosteroids against viral entry by ACE2 receptor downregulation, that are usually prescribed at a high dose in SA (6), thus a possible explanation to the lack of observed differences in our cohort.Despite the severity of asthma and reported comorbidities, no ICU admissions were reported, and hospital admissions in COVID-19-SA subjects did not differ from the median rate observed in the same geographic areas (5). Furthermore, we could observe no difference in the median monthly hospitalization rate of SA patients in 2019 compared to 2020 in Lombardy region where both hospital-admitted subjects reside (0.97 vs 0.9%, IRSA data).Our result is consistent with recent literature, showing that asthma in Western countries was not associated with an increased hospitalization rate and ICU admissions due to COVID-19 (3,8). It is still debated if a protective effect of Th2-inflammation in a significant proportion of asthma sufferers (7), or concomitant anti-inflammatory therapy could be the reasons for such outcomes (6). However, if asthma patients with COVID-19 require intubation, the duration of hospitalization was shown to be longer than average (8).As for the role of biologics in COVID-19 disease progression, we could not observe an increase in hospital admissions in patients with SA treated with biologics compared to the general population, with the majority isolating at home and requiring no additional treatment. Considering that, in areas with high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, 68.2% of SA subjects were treated with either omalizumab or mepolizumab, our observations further prove the safety of biologics during the COVID-19 pandemic.Lastly, we did not observe any deaths in our cohort, but we speculate that this outcome is most likely due to the small sample size and younger average age. In fact, advanced age seems to be the most determining risk factor on mortality due to COVID-19 compared to other causes. (9)Taken together, our results point at a neutral role of SA in the COVID-19 disease course and hospital admissions. One major strengths of our study is that, by using a fast and inexpensive tool, we could outline the salient features of severe asthma and COVID-19 at a national level, while the major weakness is the limited number of SA subjects diagnosed with COVID-19, that could lead to sampling bias and low accuracy. Further confirmation of these results with an increased sample size is therefore warranted
Background: There is controversy whether taking β-blockers or ACE inhibitors (ACEI) is a risk factor for more severe systemic insect sting reactions (SSR) and whether it increases the number or severity of adverse events (AE) during venom immunotherapy (VIT). Methods: In this open, prospective, observational, multicenter trial, we recruited patients with a history of a SSR and indication for VIT. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate whether patients taking β-blockers or ACEI show more systemic AE during VIT compared to patients without such treatment. Results: In total, 1,425 patients were enrolled and VIT was performed in 1,342 patients. Of all patients included, 388 (27.2%) took antihypertensive (AHT) drugs (10.4% took β-blockers, 11.9% ACEI, 5.0% β-blockers and ACEI). Only 5.6% of patients under AHT treatment experienced systemic AE during VIT as compared with 7.4% of patients without these drugs (OR: 0.74, 95% CI: 0.43–1.22, p=0.25). The severity of the initial sting reaction was not affected by the intake of β-blockers or ACEI (OR: 1.14, 95% CI: 0.89–1.46, p=0.29). In total, 210 (17.7%) patients were re-stung during VIT and 191 (91.0%) tolerated the sting without systemic symptoms. Of the 19 patients with VIT treatment failure, 4 took β-blockers, none an ACEI. Conclusions: This trial provides robust evidence that taking β-blockers or ACEI does neither increase the frequency of systemic AE during VIT nor aggravate SSR. Moreover, results suggest that these drugs do not impair effectiveness of VIT. (Funded by Medical University of Graz, Austria; Clinicaltrials.gov number, NCT04269629)
Background: It is unclear if asthma and its allergic phenotype are risk factors for hospitalization or severe disease from SARS-CoV-2. Methods: All patients testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 between March 1 and September 30, 2020, were retrospectively identified and characterized through electronic analysis at Stanford. A sub-cohort was followed prospectively to evaluate long-term COVID-19 symptoms. Results: 168,190 patients underwent SARS-CoV-2 testing, and 6,976 (4·15%) tested positive. In a multivariate analysis, asthma was not an independent risk factor for hospitalization (OR 1·12 [95% CI 0·86, 1·45], p=0·40). Among SARS-CoV-2 positive asthmatics, allergic asthma lowered the risk of hospitalization and had a protective effect compared to non-allergic asthma (OR 0·52 (0·28, 0·91), p=0·026); there was no association between baseline medication use as characterized by GINA and hospitalization risk. Patients with severe COVID-19 disease had lower eosinophil levels during hospitalization compared to patients with mild or asymptomatic disease, independent of asthma status (p=0.0014). In a patient sub-cohort followed longitudinally, asthmatics and non-asthmatics had similar time to resolution of COVID-19 symptoms, particularly lower respiratory symptoms. Conclusions: Asthma is not a risk factor for more severe COVID-19 disease. Allergic asthmatics were half as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to non-allergic asthmatics. Lower levels of eosinophil counts (allergic biomarkers) were associated with more severe COVID-19 disease trajectory. Recovery was similar among asthmatics and non-asthmatics with over 50% of patients reporting ongoing lower respiratory symptoms three months post-infection.
Background: Food-induced immediate response of the esophagus (FIRE) is a new phenomenon that has been described in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) patients. It is suspected when unpleasant symptoms occur suddenly on contact of the triggering food with the esophageal surface and recur with repeated exposures. It can often be mistaken for pollen-food allergy syndrome (PFAS) and solid food dysphagia. Data on FIRE is limited to one survey study and case reports, and there are no screening studies conducted on either adults or children with EoE. In this study, we aimed to screen children aged ≥7 years old with EoE for FIRE. Methods: Demographic data were collected from medical records. A questionnaire about FIRE was applied to all participants. Skin prick tests (SPTs) were done on suspected patients to identify the triggering foods. FIRE is defined as suitable clinical symptoms with suspected food allergen exposure. Results: Seventy-eight patients (74.4% male, median age: 13.5 years) were included. Unpleasant and recurrent symptoms distinct from dysphagia with specific foods were reported in %16.7 of the patients, all of whom had concomitant allergic rhinitis (AR). The symptoms described by almost all patients were oropharyngeal itching and tingling (PFAS: 15.3%) excluding only one patient reporting retrosternal narrowing and pressure after specific food consumption (FIRE: 1.2%). Conclusions: Although definitive conclusions regarding the true prevalence of FIRE cannot be made, it does not seem to be common as PFAS. However, it deserves questioning particularly in the presence of concurrent AR and/or PFAS in children with EoE.