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The landscape of lung bronchoalveolar immune cells in COVID-19 revealed by single-cell RNA sequencing

By Minfeng Liao, Yang Liu, Jin Yuan, Yanling Wen, Gang Xu, Juanjuan Zhao, Lin Chen, Jinxiu Li, Xin Wang, Fuxiang Wang, Lei Liu, Shuye Zhang, Zheng Zhang

Posted 26 Feb 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.23.20026690

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, etiological agent of recently named Coronavirus infected disease (COVID-19) by WHO, has caused more than 2, 000 deaths worldwide since its emergency in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China, in December, 2019. The symptoms of COVID-19 varied from modest, mild to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and the latter of which is generally associated with deregulated immune cytokine production; however, we currently know little as to the interplay between the extent of clinical symptoms and the compositions of lung immune microenvironment. Here, we comprehensively characterized the lung immune microenvironment with the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from 3 severe and 3 mild COVID-19 patients and 8 previously reported healthy lung controls through single-cell RNA sequence (scRNA-seq) combined with TCR-seq. Our data shows that monocyte-derived FCN1+ macrophages, whereas notFABP4+ alveolar macrophages that represent a predominant macrophage subset in BALF from patients with mild diseases, overwhelm in the severely damaged lungs from patients with ARDS. These cells are highly inflammatory and enormous chemokine producers implicated in cytokine storm. Furthermore, the formation of tissue resident, highly expanded clonal CD8+ T cells in the lung microenvironment of mild symptom patients suggests a robust adaptive immune response connected to a better control of COVID-19. This study first reported the cellular atlas of lung bronchoalveolar immune microenvironment in COVID-19 patients at the single-cell resolution, and unveiled the potential immune mechanisms underlying disease progression and protection in COVID-19. HighlightsO_LIImmune microenvironment of SARS-CoV-2-infected lungs revealed by scRNA/TCR seq C_LIO_LIIncreased inflammatory FCN1+ macrophages are replacing FABP4+ macrophages in the BALF from severe COVID-19 patients C_LIO_LIHighly expanded and functional competent tissue resident clonal CD8+ T cells in mild COVID-19 patients C_LI

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