IFN- γ and TNF- α drive a CXCL10 + CCL2 + macrophage phenotype expanded in severe COVID-19 and other diseases with tissue inflammation

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2020 Aug 5:2020.08.05.238360. doi: 10.1101/2020.08.05.238360.


Immunosuppressive and anti-cytokine treatment may have a protective effect for patients with COVID-19. Understanding the immune cell states shared between COVID-19 and other inflammatory diseases with established therapies may help nominate immunomodulatory therapies. Using an integrative strategy, we built a reference by meta-analyzing > 300,000 immune cells from COVID-19 and 5 inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), lupus, and interstitial lung disease. Our cross-disease analysis revealed that an FCN1 + inflammatory macrophage state is common to COVID-19 bronchoalveolar lavage samples, RA synovium, CD ileum, and UC colon. We also observed that a CXCL10 + CCL2 + inflammatory macrophage state is abundant in severe COVID-19, inflamed CD and RA, and expresses inflammatory genes such as GBP1, STAT1 , and IL1B . We found that the CXCL10 + CCL2 + macrophages are transcriptionally similar to blood-derived macrophages stimulated with TNF- α and IFN- γ ex vivo . Our findings suggest that IFN- γ , alongside TNF- α , might be a key driver of this abundant inflammatory macrophage phenotype in severe COVID-19 and other inflammatory diseases, which may be targeted by existing immunomodulatory therapies.

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  • Preprint