Transcriptomic Profiles Reveal Downregulation of Low-Density Lipoprotein Particle Receptor Pathway Activity in Patients Surviving Severe COVID-19

Cells. 2021 Dec 10;10(12):3495. doi: 10.3390/cells10123495.


To assess the biology of the lethal endpoint in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, we compared the transcriptional response to the virus in patients who survived or died during severe COVID-19. We applied gene expression profiling to generate transcriptional signatures for peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection at the time when they were placed in the Intensive Care Unit of the Pavlov First State Medical University of St. Petersburg (Russia). Three different bioinformatics approaches to RNA-seq analysis identified a downregulation of three common pathways in survivors compared with nonsurvivors among patients with severe COVID-19, namely, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particle receptor activity (GO:0005041), important for maintaining cholesterol homeostasis, leukocyte differentiation (GO:0002521), and cargo receptor activity (GO:0038024). Specifically, PBMCs from surviving patients were characterized by reduced expression of PPARG, CD36, STAB1, ITGAV, and ANXA2. Taken together, our findings suggest that LDL particle receptor pathway activity in patients with COVID-19 infection is associated with poor disease prognosis.

Keywords: COVID-19; GO ontology; LDL particle receptor activity; cargo receptor activity; leukocyte differentiation; peripheral blood mononuclear cells; transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / genetics*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Down-Regulation / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Ontology
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA-Seq
  • Receptors, LDL / genetics*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology


  • Receptors, LDL