Temporal omics analysis in Syrian hamsters unravel cellular effector responses to moderate COVID-19

Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 11;12(1):4869. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25030-7.


In COVID-19, immune responses are key in determining disease severity. However, cellular mechanisms at the onset of inflammatory lung injury in SARS-CoV-2 infection, particularly involving endothelial cells, remain ill-defined. Using Syrian hamsters as a model for moderate COVID-19, we conduct a detailed longitudinal analysis of systemic and pulmonary cellular responses, and corroborate it with datasets from COVID-19 patients. Monocyte-derived macrophages in lungs exert the earliest and strongest transcriptional response to infection, including induction of pro-inflammatory genes, while epithelial cells show weak alterations. Without evidence for productive infection, endothelial cells react, depending on cell subtypes, by strong and early expression of anti-viral, pro-inflammatory, and T cell recruiting genes. Recruitment of cytotoxic T cells as well as emergence of IgM antibodies precede viral clearance at day 5 post infection. Investigating SARS-CoV-2 infected Syrian hamsters thus identifies cell type-specific effector functions, providing detailed insights into pathomechanisms of COVID-19 and informing therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alveolar Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Inflammation
  • Lung / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mesocricetus
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Toll-Like Receptors