An international research team led by scientists from the Systems Immunology Group of IKMB, identified rare cell types in the blood that indicate severe disease progression in COVID-19. The multicenter team included researchers from Kiel, Cologne, Borstel, Bonn, Nijmegen, Lübeck and Tübingen.
In a longitudinal follow-up of 14 hospitalized COVID-19 patients from Kiel and Cologne intensive care units, the researchers used a multi-omics analysis approach to decode molecular indicators for a severe or fatal disease course. Surprisingly, the group identified megakaryocytes, erythroid progenitor cells and plasmablasts to be significantly increased in the peripheral blood of severe COVID-19 cases. The detection of precursor cells in the blood was unexpected since they are usually present in the bone marrow where they mature. These cellular signatures were validated in two independent cohorts from Bonn and Nijmegen. The findings of the trial can serve as a basis for validating novel biomarkers at early stages of COVID-19 to identify patients at risk for a severe course of the disease. This would enable us to improve the care of severely ill patients in the hospitals.
J.P. Bernardes*, N. Mishra*, F. Tran* et al: Longitudinal multi-omics analyses identify responses of megakaryocytes, erythroid cells and plasmablasts as hallmarks of severe COVID-19 trajectories. Immunity (2020). doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2020.11.017 *These authors contributed equally.