IntroductionExtracellular vesicles (EVs) and particles (EPs) represent reliable biomarkers for disease detection. Their role in the inflammatory microenvironment of severe COVID-19 patients is not well determined. Here, we characterized the immunophenotype, the lipidomic cargo and the functional activity of circulating EPs from severe COVID-19 patients (Co-19-EPs) and healthy controls (HC-EPs) correlating the data with the clinical parameters including the partial pressure of oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen ratio (PaO2/FiO2) and the sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score. MethodsPeripheral blood (PB) was collected from COVID-19 patients (n=10) and HC (n=10). EPs were purified from platelet-poor plasma by size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and ultrafiltration. Plasma cytokines and EPs were characterized by multiplex bead-based assay. Quantitative lipidomic profiling of EPs was performed by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry combined with quadrupole time-of-flight (LC/MS Q-TOF). Innate lymphoid cells (ILC) were characterized by flow cytometry after co-cultures with HC-EPs or Co-19-EPs. ResultsWe observed that EPs from severe COVID-19 patients: 1) display an altered surface signature as assessed by multiplex protein analysis; 2) are characterized by distinct lipidomic profiling; 3) show correlations between lipidomic profiling and disease aggressiveness scores; 4) fail to dampen type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) cytokine secretion. As a consequence, ILC2 from severe COVID-19 patients show a more activated phenotype due to the presence of Co-19-EPs. DiscussionIn summary, these data highlight that abnormal circulating EPs promote ILC2-driven inflammatory signals in severe COVID-19 patients and support further exploration to unravel the role of EPs (and EVs) in COVID-19 pathogenesis.
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