Differential immune activation profile of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection in human lung and intestinal cells: Implications for treatment with IFN-β and IFN inducer.J Infect. 2020 Oct; 81(4):e1-e10.JI
Respiratory and intestinal tract are two primary target organs of SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, detailed characterization of the host-virus interplay in infected human lung and intestinal epithelial cells is lacking.
We utilized immunofluorescence assays, flow cytometry, and RT-qPCR to delineate the virological features and the innate immune response of the host cells against SARS-CoV-2 infection in two prototype human cell lines representing the human lung (Calu3) and intestinal (Caco2) epithelium when compared with SARS-CoV.
Lung epithelial cells were significantly more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 compared to SARS-CoV. However, SARS-CoV-2 infection induced an attenuated pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines induction and type I and type II IFN responses. A single dose of 10 U/mL interferon-β (IFNβ) pretreatment potently protected both Calu3 and Caco2 against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Interestingly, SARS-CoV-2 was more sensitive to the pretreatment with IFNβ and IFN inducer than SARS-CoV in Calu3.
Despite robust infection in both human lung and intestinal epithelial cells, SARS-CoV-2 could attenuate the virus-induced pro-inflammatory response and IFN response. Pre-activation of the type I IFN signaling pathway primed a highly efficient antiviral response in the host against SARS-CoV-2 infection, which could serve as a potential therapeutic and prophylactic maneuver to COVID-19 patients.