Mechanisms of neutrophil involvement in severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remain incompletely understood. Here, we collect longitudinal blood samples from 306 hospitalized COVID-19+ patients and 86 controls and perform bulk RNA sequencing of enriched neutrophils, plasma proteomics, and high-throughput antibody profiling to investigate relationships between neutrophil states and disease severity. We identify dynamic switches between six distinct neutrophil subtypes. At days 3 and 7 post-hospitalization, patients with severe disease display a granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cell-like gene expression signature, while patients with resolving disease show a neutrophil progenitor-like signature. Humoral responses are identified as potential drivers of neutrophil effector functions, with elevated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1)-to-IgA1 ratios in plasma of severe patients who survived. In vitro experiments confirm that while patient-derived IgG antibodies induce phagocytosis in healthy donor neutrophils, IgA antibodies predominantly induce neutrophil cell death. Overall, our study demonstrates a dysregulated myelopoietic response in severe COVID-19 and a potential role for IgA-dominant responses contributing to mortality.
Keywords: COVID-19; G-MDSC; IgA; NETosis; SARS-CoV-2; degranulation; neutrophil; transcriptomics.
Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.