Table_1_Clinical, Serological, and Histopathological Similarities Between Severe COVID-19 and Acute Exacerbation of Connective Tissue Disease-Associat.docx (33.36 kB)

Table_1_Clinical, Serological, and Histopathological Similarities Between Severe COVID-19 and Acute Exacerbation of Connective Tissue Disease-Associated Interstitial Lung Disease (CTD-ILD).docx

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posted on 02.10.2020 by Daniel Gagiannis, Julie Steinestel, Carsten Hackenbroch, Benno Schreiner, Michael Hannemann, Wilhelm Bloch, Vincent G. Umathum, Niklas Gebauer, Conn Rother, Marcel Stahl, Hanno M. Witte, Konrad Steinestel
Background and Objectives

Understanding the pathophysiology of respiratory failure in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is indispensable for development of therapeutic strategies. Since we observed similarities between COVID-19 and interstitial lung disease in connective tissue disease (CTD-ILD), we investigated features of autoimmunity in SARS-CoV-2-associated respiratory failure.

Methods

We prospectively enrolled 22 patients with RT-PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and 10 patients with non-COVID-19-associated pneumonia. Full laboratory testing was performed including autoantibody (AAB; ANA/ENA) screening using indirect immunofluorescence and immunoblot. Fifteen COVID-19 patients underwent high-resolution computed tomography. Transbronchial biopsies/autopsy tissue samples for histopathology and ultrastructural analyses were obtained from 4/3 cases, respectively.

Results

Thirteen (59.1%) patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and five patients (22.7%) died from the disease. ANA titers ≥1:320 and/or positive ENA immunoblots were detected in 11/13 (84.6%) COVID-19 patients with ARDS, in 1/9 (11.1%) COVID-19 patients without ARDS (p = 0.002) and in 4/10 (40%) patients with non-COVID-19-associated pneumonias (p = 0.039). Detection of AABs was significantly associated with a need for intensive care treatment (83.3 vs. 10%; p = 0.002) and occurrence of severe complications (75 vs. 20%, p = 0.03). Radiological and histopathological findings were highly heterogeneous including patterns reminiscent of exacerbating CTD-ILD, while ultrastructural analyses revealed interstitial thickening, fibroblast activation, and deposition of collagen fibrils.

Conclusions

We are the first to report overlapping clinical, serological, and imaging features between severe COVID-19 and acute exacerbation of CTD-ILD. Our findings indicate that autoimmune mechanisms determine both clinical course and long-term sequelae after SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the presence of autoantibodies might predict adverse clinical course in COVID-19 patients.

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