SARS-CoV-2 engages inflammasome and pyroptosis in human primary monocytes

Cell Death Discov. 2021 Mar 1;7(1):43. doi: 10.1038/s41420-021-00428-w.


Infection by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been associated with leukopenia and uncontrolled inflammatory response in critically ill patients. A better comprehension of SARS-CoV-2-induced monocyte death is essential for the identification of therapies capable to control the hyper-inflammation and reduce viral replication in patients with 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Here, we show that SARS-CoV-2 engages inflammasome and triggers pyroptosis in human monocytes, experimentally infected, and from patients under intensive care. Pyroptosis associated with caspase-1 activation, IL-1ß production, gasdermin D cleavage, and enhanced pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in human primary monocytes. At least in part, our results originally describe mechanisms by which monocytes, a central cellular component recruited from peripheral blood to respiratory tract, succumb to control severe COVID-19.