Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Aug 28:ciaa1280. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1280. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Key knowledge gaps remain in the understanding of viral dynamics and immune response of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
METHODS: We evaluated these characteristics and established their association with clinical severity in a prospective observational cohort study of 100 patients with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (mean age 46 years, 56% male, 38% with comorbidities). Respiratory samples (n=74) were collected for viral culture, serum samples for measurement of IgM/IgG levels (n=30), and plasma samples for levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines (n=81). Disease severity was correlated with results from viral culture, serologic testing, and immune markers.
RESULTS: 57 (57%) patients developed viral pneumonia, of whom 20 (20%) required supplemental oxygen including 12 (12%) invasive mechanical ventilation. Viral culture from respiratory samples was positive for 19 of 74 patients (26%). No virus was isolated when the PCR cycle threshold (Ct) value was >30 or >14 days after symptom onset. Seroconversion occurred at a median of 12.5 days (IQR 9-18) for IgM and 15.0 days (IQR 12-20) for IgG; 54/62 patients (87.1%) sampled at day 14 or later seroconverted. Severe infections were associated with earlier seroconversion and higher peak IgM and IgG levels. Levels of IP-10, HGF, IL-6, MCP-1, MIP-1α, IL-12p70, IL-18, VEGF-A, PDGF-BB and IL-1RA significantly correlated with disease severity.
CONCLUSION: We found virus viability was associated with lower PCR Ct value in early illness. A stronger antibody response was associated with disease severity. The overactive proinflammatory immune signatures offers targets for host-directed immunotherapy which should be evaluated in randomised controlled trials.