Background: COVID-19 can present with lymphopenia and extraordinary complex multiorgan pathologies that can trigger long-term sequela. Aims: Given that inflammasome products, like caspase-1, play a role in the pathophysiology of a number of co-morbid conditions, we investigated caspases across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease. Materials & Methods: We assessed transcriptional states of multiple caspases and using flow cytometry, the expression of active caspase-1 in blood cells from COVID-19 patients in acute and convalescent stages of disease. Non-COVID-19 subject presenting with various comorbid conditions served as controls. Results: Single-cell RNA-seq data of immune cells from COVID-19 patients showed a distinct caspase expression pattern in T cells, neutrophils, dendritic cells, and eosinophils compared with controls. Caspase-1 was upregulated in CD4+ T-cells from hospitalized COVID-19 patients compared with unexposed controls. Post-COVID-19 patients with lingering symptoms (long-haulers) also showed upregulated caspase-1activity in CD4+ T-cells that ex vivo was attenuated with a select pan-caspase inhibitor. We observed elevated caspase-3/7levels in red blood cells from COVID-19 patients compared with controls that was reduced following caspase inhibition. Discussion: Our preliminary results suggest an exuberant caspase response in COVID-19 that may facilitate immune-related pathological processes leading to severe outcomes. Further clinical correlations of caspase expression in different stages of COVID-19 will be needed. Conclusion: Pan-caspase inhibition could emerge as a therapeutic strategy to ameliorate or prevent severe COVID-19.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology|
|State||Published - Jan 2022|