Since the molecular mechanisms determining COVID-19 severity are not yet well understood, there is a demand for biomarkers derived from comparative transcriptome analyses of mild and severe cases, combined with patients’ clinico-demographic and laboratory data. Here the transcriptomic response of human leukocytes to SARS-CoV-2 infection was investigated by focusing on the differences between mild and severe cases and between age subgroups (younger and older adults). Three transcriptional modules correlated with these traits were functionally characterized, as well as 23 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) associated to disease severity. One module, correlated with severe cases and older patients, had an overrepresentation of genes involved in innate immune response and in neutrophil activation, whereas two other modules, correlated with disease severity and younger patients, harbored genes involved in the innate immune response to viral infections, and in the regulation of this response. This transcriptomic mechanism could be related to the better outcome observed in younger COVID-19 patients. The DEGs, all hyper-expressed in the group of severe cases, were mostly involved in neutrophil activation and in the p53 pathway, therefore related to inflammation and lymphopenia. These biomarkers may be useful for getting a better stratification of risk factors in COVID-19.

Fuente: Scientific Reports

Published: 17 January 2023