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Severe COVID-19 is associated with elevated serum IgA and antiphospholipid IgA-antibodies


Abstract

BACKGROUND

Severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) frequently entails complications that bear similarities to autoimmune diseases. To date, there is little data on possible IgA-mediated autoimmune responses. Here, we aim to determine whether COVID-19 is associated with a vigorous total IgA response and if IgA antibodies are associated with complications of severe illness. Since thrombotic events are frequent in severe COVID-19 and resemble hypercoagulation of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), our approach focused on antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL).

METHODS

In this retrospective cohort study clinical data and aPL from 64 patients with COVID-19 were compared from three independent tertiary hospitals (one in Liechtenstein, two in Switzerland). Samples were collected from April 9 th to May 1 st, 2020.

RESULTS

Clinical records of 64 patients with COVID-19 were reviewed and divided into a cohort with mild illness (mCOVID) (41%), a discovery cohort with severe illness (sdCOVID) (22%) and a confirmation cohort with severe illness (scCOVID) (38%). Total IgA, IgG and aPL were measured with clinical diagnostic kits. Severe illness was significantly associated with increased total IgA (sdCOVID, P=0.01; scCOVID, p-value<0.001), but not total IgG. Among aPL, both cohorts with severe illness significantly correlated with elevated anti-Cardiolipin IgA (sdCOVID and scCOVID, p-value<0.001), anti-Cardiolipin IgM (sdCOVID, P=0.003; scCOVID, P<0.001), and anti-Beta2 Glycoprotein-1 IgA (sdCOVID and scCOVID, P<0.001). Systemic lupus erythematosus was excluded from all patients as a potential confounder.

CONCLUSIONS

Higher total IgA and IgA-aPL were consistently associated with severe illness. These novel data strongly suggest that a vigorous antiviral IgA-response, possibly triggered in the bronchial mucosa, induces systemic autoimmunity.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) frequently entails complications that bear similarities to autoimmune diseases. To date, there is little data on possible IgA-mediated autoimmune responses. Here, we aim to determine whether COVID-19 is associated with a vigorous total IgA response and if IgA antibodies are associated with complications of severe illness. Since thrombotic events are frequent in severe COVID-19 and resemble hypercoagulation of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), our approach focused on antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL).

METHODS

In this retrospective cohort study clinical data and aPL from 64 patients with COVID-19 were compared from three independent tertiary hospitals (one in Liechtenstein, two in Switzerland). Samples were collected from April 9 th to May 1 st, 2020.

RESULTS

Clinical records of 64 patients with COVID-19 were reviewed and divided into a cohort with mild illness (mCOVID) (41%), a discovery cohort with severe illness (sdCOVID) (22%) and a confirmation cohort with severe illness (scCOVID) (38%). Total IgA, IgG and aPL were measured with clinical diagnostic kits. Severe illness was significantly associated with increased total IgA (sdCOVID, P=0.01; scCOVID, p-value<0.001), but not total IgG. Among aPL, both cohorts with severe illness significantly correlated with elevated anti-Cardiolipin IgA (sdCOVID and scCOVID, p-value<0.001), anti-Cardiolipin IgM (sdCOVID, P=0.003; scCOVID, P<0.001), and anti-Beta2 Glycoprotein-1 IgA (sdCOVID and scCOVID, P<0.001). Systemic lupus erythematosus was excluded from all patients as a potential confounder.

CONCLUSIONS

Higher total IgA and IgA-aPL were consistently associated with severe illness. These novel data strongly suggest that a vigorous antiviral IgA-response, possibly triggered in the bronchial mucosa, induces systemic autoimmunity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Intensive Care Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Dermatology Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Infectious Diseases
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:30 September 2020
Deposited On:28 Oct 2020 13:34
Last Modified:22 Jan 2021 14:49
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1058-4838
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa1496
PubMed ID:32997739

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