Type I interferon autoantibodies are associated with systemic immune alterations in patients with COVID-19

UCSF COMET consortium

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128 Scopus citations


Neutralizing autoantibodies against type I interferons (IFNs) have been found in some patients with critical coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2). However, the prevalence of these antibodies, their longitudinal dynamics across the disease severity scale, and their functional effects on circulating leukocytes remain unknown. Here, in 284 patients with COVID-19, we found type I IFN–specific autoantibodies in peripheral blood samples from 19% of patients with critical disease and 6% of patients with severe disease. We found no type I IFN autoantibodies in individuals with moderate disease. Longitudinal profiling of over 600,000 peripheral blood mononuclear cells using multiplexed single-cell epitope and transcriptome sequencing from 54 patients with COVID-19 and 26 non–COVID-19 controls revealed a lack of type I IFN–stimulated gene (ISG-I) responses in myeloid cells from patients with critical disease. This was especially evident in dendritic cell populations isolated from patients with critical disease producing type I IFN–specific autoantibodies. Moreover, we found elevated expression of the inhibitory receptor leukocyte-associated immunoglobulin-like receptor 1 (LAIR1) on the surface of monocytes isolated from patients with critical disease early in the disease course. LAIR1 expression is inversely correlated with ISG-I expression response in patients with COVID-19 but is not expressed in healthy controls. The deficient ISG-I response observed in patients with critical COVID-19 with and without type I IFN–specific autoantibodies supports a unifying model for disease pathogenesis involving ISG-I suppression through convergent mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabh2624
JournalScience translational medicine
Issue number612
StatePublished - Sep 22 2021


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