Genome-wide transcriptional profiling of pulmonary functional sequelae in ARDS- secondary to SARS-CoV-2 infection

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García Hidalgo, María Coronada
Peláez, Rafael
González, Jessica
Santisteve, Sally
Benítez, IvánBenítez, Iván - ORCID ID
Molinero, Marta
Perez-Pons, Manel
Belmonte, Thalía
Torres, Gerard
Moncusí Moix, Anna
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cc-by (c) María C. García-Hidalgo, 2022
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Background: Up to 80% of patients surviving acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) secondary to SARS-CoV- 2 infection present persistent anomalies in pulmonary function after hospital discharge. There is a limited un-derstanding of the mechanistic pathways linked to post-acute pulmonary sequelae. Aim: To identify the molecular underpinnings associated with severe lung diffusion involvement in survivors of SARS-CoV-2-induced ARDS. Methods: Survivors attended to a complete pulmonary evaluation 3 months after hospital discharge. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) was performed using Illumina technology in whole-blood samples from 50 patients with moderate to severe diffusion impairment (DLCO<60%) and age- and sex-matched individuals with mild-normal lung function (DLCO≥60%). A transcriptomic signature for optimal classification was constructed using random forest. Transcriptomic data were analyzed for biological pathway enrichment, cellular deconvolution, cell/tissue-specific gene expression and candidate drugs. Results: RNA-seq identified 1357 differentially expressed transcripts. A model composed of 14 mRNAs allowed the optimal discrimination of survivors with severe diffusion impairment (AUC=0.979). Hallmarks of lung sequelae involved cell death signaling, cytoskeleton reorganization, cell growth and differentiation and the immune response. Resting natural killer (NK) cells were the most important immune cell subtype for the pre-diction of severe diffusion impairment. Components of the signature correlated with neutrophil, lymphocyte and monocyte counts. A variable expression profile of the transcripts was observed in lung cell subtypes and bodily tissues. One upregulated gene, TUBB4A, constitutes a target for FDA-approved drugs. Conclusions: This work defines the transcriptional programme associated with post-acute pulmonary sequelae and provides novel insights for targeted interventions and biomarker development.
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Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, 2022, vol. 154, 113617