Emerging biomarkers of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infections suggests different treatment approaches may be required. There is a need to characterize immunopathological response to SARS-CoV-2 to better understand the complex relationship between the immune system and the virus. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can severely affect populations with underlying health issues, as pre-existing conditions weaken the body’s ability to resist infection. Many factors can contribute to severe immune response to an infection, including an overactive reaction of the immune system to the coronavirus, leading to irreparable damage to organs like the lung.
In a recent publication, Nienhold et al. reported their efforts in characterizing immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection from postmortem lung tissue. The team used Ion Torrent™ targeted RNA sequencing to profile immune response expression from formalin fixed and paraffin embedded (FFPE) samples. Together with the histological and cellular profiling observations, they identified two very different types of responses. One pattern showed high expression of interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) and cytokines with high viral loads and limited pulmonary damage. The other pattern revealed low ISGs, low viral loads and abundant immune infiltrates, with severe damage to the lungs. Serious instances of both types of immune responses resulted in fatality.
Treatment of one type of immune response may not address the other pattern, which suggests different treatment approaches may be required for different immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection based on emerging biomarkers of immune response. More investigations are needed to better understand the mechanisms and relationship between host immune system and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Oncomine™ Immune Response Research Assay workflow is a complete NGS research solution that enables researchers to rapidly characterize the overall immune response to the viral infection and measure expression of genes, including low-expressing genes involved in inflammatory signaling. This is just one component of the portfolio of targeted NGS research solutions that can be used to study the intricacies of the immune pathway as well as other factors related to host genetics and immune response, including the human microbiome, transcriptome and the adaptive immune system and its armies of T-cells and B-cells.
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Read the paper: Nienhold et al. Two distinct immunopathological profiles in autopsy lungs of COVID-19. Nature Comm. 11, 5086 (2020)