Studies of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected patients and experimentally infected animals indicate a critical role for augmented expression of proinflammatory chemokines and cytokines in severe disease. Here, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 infection of human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) and monocyte-derived dendritic cells was abortive, but induced the production of multiple antiviral and proinflammatory cytokines (interferon-α, interferon-β, tumor necrosis factor, and interleukins 1β, 6, and 10) and a chemokine (CXCL10). Despite the lack of efficient replication in MDMs, SARS-CoV-2 induced profound interferon-mediated cell death of host cells. Macrophage activation and death were not enhanced by exposure to low levels of convalescent plasma, suggesting that antibody-dependent enhancement of infection does not contribute to cell death. Together, these results indicate that infection of macrophages and dendritic cells potentially plays a major role in coronavirus disease 2019 pathogenesis, even in the absence of productive infection.
Keywords: COVID-19; IFN; SARS-CoV-2; cell death; macrophage.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.