Publications of Michel Moutschen
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See detailKinetics and persistence of the cellular and humoral immune responses to BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in SARS-CoV-2-naive and -experienced subjects
Desmecht, Salomé ULiege; Tashkeev, Aleksandr ULiege; Nicole Marechal, Nicole et al

E-print/Working paper (2022)

Background: Understanding and measuring the individual level of immune protection and its persistence at both humoral and cellular levels after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is mandatory for the management of ... [more ▼]

Background: Understanding and measuring the individual level of immune protection and its persistence at both humoral and cellular levels after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is mandatory for the management of the vaccination booster campaign. Our prospective study was designed to assess the immunogenicity of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in triggering the humoral and the cellular immune response in healthcare workers up to 6 months after two doses vaccination. Methods: This prospective study enrolled 208 healthcare workers from the Liège University Hospital (CHU) of Liège in Belgium. All participants received two doses of BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (BNT162b2). Fifty participants were SARS-CoV-2 experienced (self-reported SARS-CoV-2 infection) and 158 were naïve (no reported SARS-CoV-2 infection) before the vaccination. Blood sampling was performed at the day of the first (T0) and second (T1) vaccine doses administration, then at 2 weeks (T2), 4 weeks (T3) and 6 months (T4) after the 1st vaccine dose administration. A total of 1024 blood samples were collected. All samples were tested for the presence of anti-Spike antibodies using DiaSorin LIAISON SARS-CoV-2 TrimericS IgG assay. Neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan-like variant strain were quantified in all samples using a Vero E6 cell-based neutralization-based assay. Cell-mediated immune response was evaluated at T4 on 80 participants by measuring the secretion of IFN- on peripheral blood lymphocytes using the QuantiFERON Human IFN- SARS-CoV-2, Qiagen. All participants were monitored on weekly-basis for the novo SARS-COV-2 infection for 4 weeks after the 1st vaccine dose administration. We analyzed separately the naïve and experienced participants. Findings: We found that anti-spike antibodies and neutralization capacity levels were significantly higher in SARS-CoV-2 experienced healthcare workers (HCWs) compared to naïve HCWs at all time points analyzed. Cellular immune response was similar in the two groups six months following 2nd dose of the vaccine. Reassuringly, most participants had a detectable cellular immune response to SARS-CoV-2 six months after vaccination. Besides the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection history on immune response to BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, we observed a significant negative correlation between age and persistence of humoral response. Cellular immune response was, however, not significantly correlated to age, although a trend towards a negative impact of age was observed. Conclusions: Our data strengthen previous findings demonstrating that immunization through vaccination combined with natural infection is better than 2 vaccine doses immunization or natural infection alone. It may have implications for personalizing mRNA vaccination regimens used to prevent severe COVID-19 and reduce the impact of the pandemic on the healthcare system. More specifically, it may help prioritizing vaccination, including for the deployment of booster doses. [less ▲]

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See detail"Opter pour l'obligation vaccinale est un choix de société"
Muraille, Eric; De Kerchove d'Exaerde, Alban; Drion, Pierre ULiege et al

Article for general public (2021)

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See detailComparison of clinical and biological characteristics of HIV infected patients presenting Cryptococcus neorformans versus C. curvatus /C. laurentii meningitis
Zono, Bive ULiege; MOUTSCHEN, Michel ULiege; SITUAKIBANZA, Hippolyte et al

in BMC Infectious Diseases (2021), 21(1), 1-10

Background: Cryptococcal meningitis is mainly caused by Cryptococcus neoformans/C. gattii complex. We compared the clinical, biological, and antifungal susceptibility profiles of isolates from ... [more ▼]

Background: Cryptococcal meningitis is mainly caused by Cryptococcus neoformans/C. gattii complex. We compared the clinical, biological, and antifungal susceptibility profiles of isolates from HIV‑Infected Patients (HIVIP) with C. neoformans (Cn) versus C. curvatus/C. laurentii (Cc/Cl) meningitis. Methods: Comparative analytical study were conducted. Apart from patients’ clinical data, the following analysis were performed and the results were compared in both groups: biochemical examination, cryptococcal antigen test, India ink staining, and culture on Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF), strains identification by mass spectrometry, ITS sequencing, PCR serotyping and antifungal susceptibility. The main outcome variable was the “species of Cryptococcus identified”, which was compared to other variables of the same type using the Pearson Chi‑square test or the Fisher exact test. Results: A total of 23 (79.3%) Cn meningitis cases versus 6 (20.7%) Cc/Cl meningitis were retained. Cn meningitis was more frequently associated with headache (100% vs 50%, p = 0.005) than Cc/Cl meningitis and meningeal signs were more frequent in Cn infected patients. Biologically, hypoglycorrhachia and low CD4 count were more observed in Cn group (90% vs 20% of patients, p = 0.01; 45.6 vs 129.8 cells/µL, p = 0.02, respectively). A higher proportion of Cn strains (91.3%) showed a low Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) (< 8 mg/L) for fluconazole compared to Cc/Cl strains (66.7%). Also, Cc/Cl strains resistant to 5‑flucytosine and amphotericin B were found in 16.7% of cases for each of the two antifungal agents. Cryptococcus detection by routine analysis (India ink, culture, and antigens) was better for Cn samples than Cc/Cl. Except ITS sequencing, which identified all strains of both groups, mass spectrometry and serotyping PCR identified Cn strains better than Cc/Cl (100% vs 80%, p = 0.1; 100% vs 0%, p < 0.0001, respectively). After treatment with amphotericin B, 5‑flucytosine, and fluconazole in both groups, the outcome was similar. Conclusions: Clinical presentation of Cn meningitis is certainly more severe than that of Cc/Cl meningitis, but Cc/ Cl infection should be considered in the management of HIVIP with meningeal syndrome because of the diagnostic difficulty and the high MICs of antifungal agents required for the treatment of meningitis due to these cryptococcal species. [less ▲]

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See detailMolecular Analysis of Cryptococcus spp. Reveals Species Diversity and Multilocus Sequence Typing Heterogeneity among People Living with HIV in Kinshasa
Zono, Bive ULiege; SACHELI, Rosalie ULiege; Situakibanza, Hippolyte et al

in Journal of Fungi (2021, October 28), 7(916), 42-43

Objectives: In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the neuromeningeal cryptococcosis (NMC) hospital prevalence varies between 8.8 and 11% with a death rate of about 50%. However, the Cryptococcus ... [more ▼]

Objectives: In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the neuromeningeal cryptococcosis (NMC) hospital prevalence varies between 8.8 and 11% with a death rate of about 50%. However, the Cryptococcus isolates circulating are poorly and formerly described. We describe the molecular characterization of Cryptococcus spp. isolated from people living with HIV (PLWHIV), and the association between NMC severity factors and the Cryptococcus multilocus sequence typing (MLST) profiles. Materials & Methods: Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) was collected from PLWHIV with neuromeningeal syndrome hospitalized in three Kinshasa public hospitals from 1 February 2019 to 29 February 2020, and cultured on Sabouraud dextrose agar + chloramphenicol medium afterwards. Serotyping PCR, internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequencing, and MLST from next-generation sequencing (NGS) data were performed to genotype the Cryptococcus isolates. Raw NGS data were processed and the loci alleles were manually extracted using Geneious software. NMC severity factors such as hypoglycorrhachia (<50 mg/dL), raised CSF opening pressure (>30 cm water), and the patient pejorative outcome were compared to the Cryptococcus sequence type (ST)-MLST profile which was identified, using Pearson chi-square test or Fisher exact test. Results: Out of 29 isolates included in the present study, 23 (79.3%; 95% IC: 65.5–93.1) have been identified as serotype A using serotyping PCR, while 6 (20.7%; 95% IC: 6.9–34.5) had unidentifiable profile. Moreover, all the 29 isolates have been characterized by ITS sequencing as follow: Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii (23 of 29 isolates, 79.3%), Cryptococcus curvatus (5 of 29, 17.2%), and Cryptococcus laurentii (1 of 29, 3.5%). Apart from this highlighted species diversity, C. neoformans var. grubii isolates were all identified as molecular type VNI using the MLST ISHAM scheme, with seven different STs including ST93 (14 out of 23, 60.9%), ST53 (1 out of 23, 4.3%), ST31 (1 out of 23, 4.3%), ST5 (1 out of 23, 4.3%), ST4 (1 out of 23, 4.3%), ST69 (1 out 23, 4.3%), and one novel ST not yet reported worldwide (2 out of 23, 8.6%). Furthermore, two isolates (8.6%) showed a mixed molecular profile (under investigation). Phylogenetic analysis carried out by the unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean algorithm (UPGMA) of concatenated gene sequences from the seven MLST loci indicated that the main ST isolated in this study is very close to the only isolate previously reported from the DRC. The others are distant from it, even more so for ST69. All the STs identified in the present study have been isolated in the neighbouring countries of the DRC except for ST53, which has only been reported in Southeast Asia. Among NMC severity factors, only the patient pejorative outcome was associated with the minority STs infections (87.5%, p = 0.02) (ST53, ST31, ST5, ST4, STA, ST69). Conclusions: Molecular analysis of Cryptococcus spp. isolates showed wide species diversity, and ST-MLST heterogenicity within the only one molecular type identified. The existence of the STs isolated in this study in the DRC neighbouring countries suggests probable close-to-home spread. Furthermore, infections due to minority STs were associated with a pejorative outcome than those due to ST93. [less ▲]

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See detailAge-dependent impact of the major common genetic risk factor for COVID-19 on severity and mortality.
Nakanishi, Tomoko; Pigazzini, Sara; Degenhardt, Frauke et al

in Journal of Clinical Investigation (2021), Online ahead of print.

BACKGROUND: There is considerable variability in COVID-19 outcomes amongst younger adults-and some of this variation may be due to genetic predisposition. We characterized the clinical implications of the ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: There is considerable variability in COVID-19 outcomes amongst younger adults-and some of this variation may be due to genetic predisposition. We characterized the clinical implications of the major genetic risk factor for COVID-19 severity, and its age-dependent effect, using individual-level data in a large international multi-centre consortium. METHOD: The major common COVID-19 genetic risk factor is a chromosome 3 locus, tagged by the marker rs10490770. We combined individual level data for 13,424 COVID-19 positive patients (N=6,689 hospitalized) from 17 cohorts in nine countries to assess the association of this genetic marker with mortality, COVID-19-related complications and laboratory values. We next examined if the magnitude of these associations varied by age and were independent from known clinical COVID-19 risk factors. FINDINGS: We found that rs10490770 risk allele carriers experienced an increased risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR] 1·4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1·2-1·6) and COVID-19 related mortality (HR 1·5, 95%CI 1·3-1·8). Risk allele carriers had increased odds of several COVID-19 complications: severe respiratory failure (odds ratio [OR] 2·0, 95%CI 1·6-2·6), venous thromboembolism (OR 1·7, 95%CI 1·2-2·4), and hepatic injury (OR 1·6, 95%CI 1·2-2·0). Risk allele carriers ≤ 60 years had higher odds of death or severe respiratory failure (OR 2·6, 95%CI 1·8-3·9) compared to those > 60 years OR 1·5 (95%CI 1·3-1·9, interaction p-value=0·04). Amongst individuals ≤ 60 years who died or experienced severe respiratory COVID-19 outcome, we found that 31·8% (95%CI 27·6-36·2) were risk variant carriers, compared to 13·9% (95%CI 12·6-15·2%) of those not experiencing these outcomes. Prediction of death or severe respiratory failure among those ≤ 60 years improved when including the risk allele (AUC 0·82 vs 0·84, p=0·016) and the prediction ability of rs10490770 risk allele was similar to, or better than, most established clinical risk factors. INTERPRETATION: The major common COVID-19 risk locus on chromosome 3 is associated with increased risks of morbidity and mortality-and these are more pronounced amongst individuals ≤ 60 years. The effect on COVID-19 severity was similar to, or larger than most established risk factors, suggesting potential implications for clinical risk management. FUNDING: Funding was obtained by each of the participating cohorts individually. [less ▲]

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See detailComparison of clinical and biological characteristics of HIV infected patients presenting Cryptococcus neorformans versus C. curvatus /C. laurentii meningitis
Zono, Bive ULiege; MOUTSCHEN, Michel ULiege; Situakibanza, Hippolyte et al

Poster (2021, June 12)

Clinical presentation of Cn meningitis is certainly more severe than that of Cc/Cl meningitis, but Cc/Cl infection should be considered in the management of HIVIP with meningeal syndrome because of the ... [more ▼]

Clinical presentation of Cn meningitis is certainly more severe than that of Cc/Cl meningitis, but Cc/Cl infection should be considered in the management of HIVIP with meningeal syndrome because of the diagnostic difficulty and the high MICs of antifungal agents required for the treatment of meningitis due to these cryptococcal species. [less ▲]

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See detailImmunosuppression Withdrawal After Liver Transplantation for Common Variable Immunodeficiency.
Detry, Olivier ULiege; MEURISSE, Nicolas ULiege; Jouret, François ULiege et al

in Liver Transplantation (2021), 27(3), 456-458

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See detailDual‑specificity phosphatase 3 deletion promotes obesity, non‑alcoholic steatohepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma
Jacques, Sophie ULiege; Arjomand, Arash ULiege; Perée, Hélène ULiege et al

in Scientific Reports (2021), 11

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic hepatic pathology in Western countries. It encompasses a spectrum of conditions ranging from simple steatosis to more severe and ... [more ▼]

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic hepatic pathology in Western countries. It encompasses a spectrum of conditions ranging from simple steatosis to more severe and progressive non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) that can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Obesity and related metabolic syndrome are important risk factors for the development of NAFLD, NASH and HCC. DUSP3 is a small dual-specificity protein phosphatase with a poorly known physiological function. We investigated its role in metabolic syndrome manifestations and in HCC using a mouse knockout (KO) model. While aging, DUSP3-KO mice became obese, exhibited insulin resistance, NAFLD and associated liver damage. These phenotypes were exacerbated under high fat diet (HFD). In addition, DEN administration combined to HFD led to rapid HCC development in DUSP3-KO compared to wild type (WT) mice. DUSP3-KO mice had more serum triglycerides, cholesterol, AST and ALT compared to control WT mice under both regular chow diet (CD) and HFD. The level of fasting insulin was higher compared to WT mice, though, fasting glucose as well as glucose tolerance were normal. At the molecular level, HFD led to decreased expression of DUSP3 in WT mice. DUSP3 deletion was associated with increased and consistent phosphorylation of the insulin receptor (IR) and with higher activation of the downstream signaling pathway. In conclusion, our results support a new role for DUSP3 in obesity, insulin resistance, NAFLD and liver damage. [less ▲]

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See detailTransmission of SARS-CoV-2 After COVID-19 Screening and Mitigation Measures for Primary School Children Attending School in Liège, Belgium.
Meuris, Christelle ULiege; Kremer, Cécile; Geerinck, Anton ULiege et al

in JAMA Network Open (2021), 4(10), 2128757

IMPORTANCE: Recent data suggest a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 among children. The possible role that children attending primary school may play in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remains poorly ... [more ▼]

IMPORTANCE: Recent data suggest a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 among children. The possible role that children attending primary school may play in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remains poorly understood. OBJECTIVE: To gain a better understanding of the possible role of children in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This prospective cohort study was conducted from September 21 to December 31, 2020, in a primary school in Liège, Belgium, among a volunteer sample of 181 children, parents, and school employees. EXPOSURES: Participants were tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection once a week for 15 weeks through throat washing, performed with 5 mL of saline and collected in a sterile tube after approximately 30 seconds of gargling. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was performed to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: In case of test positivity, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire aimed at determining the timing of symptom onset and symptom duration. SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequencing was also performed. Confirmed cases were linked based on available information on known contacts and viral sequences. RESULTS: A total of 181 individuals participated in this study, including 63 children (34 girls [54.0%]; mean [SD] age, 8.6 [1.9] years [range, 5-13 years]) and 118 adults (75 women [63.6%]; mean [SD] age, 42.5 [5.7] years [range, 30-59 years]). Forty-five individuals (24.9%) tested positive: 13 children (20.6%; 95% CI, 10.6%-30.6%) and 32 adults (27.1%; 95% CI, 19.1%-35.7%) (P = .34). Children were more often asymptomatic compared with adults (6 [46.2%; 95% CI, 19.1%-73.3%] vs 4 of 31 [12.9%; 95% CI, 1.3%-24.5%]; P = .04). The median duration of symptoms was shorter in children than in adults (0.00 days [IQR, 0.00-1.00 days] vs 15.00 days [IQR, 7.00-22.00 days]). A reconstruction of the outbreak revealed that most transmission events occurred between teachers and between children within the school. Of the observed household transmission events, most seemed to have originated from a child or teacher who acquired the infection at school. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Despite the implementation of several mitigation measures, the incidence of COVID-19 among children attending primary school in this study was comparable to that observed among teachers and parents. Transmission tree reconstruction suggests that most transmission events originated from within the school. Additional measures should be considered to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at school, including intensified testing. [less ▲]

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See detailAsthma and COPD Are Not Risk Factors for ICU Stay and Death in Case of SARS-CoV2 Infection
CALMES, Doriane ULiege; Graff, Sophie ULiege; MAES, Nathalie ULiege et al

in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice (2021), 9(1), 160-169

BACKGROUND: Asthmatics and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have more severe outcomes with viral infections than people without obstructive disease. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Asthmatics and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have more severe outcomes with viral infections than people without obstructive disease. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if obstructive diseases are risk factors for intensive care unit (ICU) stay and death due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19). METHODS: We collected data from the electronic medical record from 596 adult patients hospitalized in University Hospital of Liege between March 18 and April 17, 2020, for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) infection. We classified patients into 3 groups according to the underlying respiratory disease, present before the COVID19 pandemic. RESULTS: Among patients requiring hospitalization for COVID19, asthma and COPD accounted for 9.6% and 7.7%, respectively. The proportions of asthmatics, patients with COPD, and patients without obstructive airway disease hospitalized in the ICU were 17.5%, 19.6%, and 14%, respectively. One-third of patients with COPD died during hospitalization, whereas only 7.0% of asthmatics and 13.6% of patients without airway obstruction died due to SARS-CoV2. The multivariate analysis showed that asthma, COPD, inhaled corticosteroid treatment, and oral corticosteroid treatment were not independent risk factors for ICU admission or death. Male gender (odds ratio [OR]: 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1-3.2) and obesity (OR: 8.5; 95% CI: 5.1-14.1) were predictors of ICU admission, whereas male gender (OR 1.9; 95% CI: 1.1-3.2), older age (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.6-2.3), cardiopathy (OR: 1.8; 95% CI: 1.1-3.1), and immunosuppressive diseases (OR: 3.6; 95% CI: 1.5-8.4) were independent predictors of death. CONCLUSION: Asthma and COPD are not risk factors for ICU admission and death related to SARS-CoV2 infection. [less ▲]

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See detailCan predicting COVID-19 mortality in a European cohort using only demographic and comorbidity data surpass age-based prediction: An externally validated study.
Chatterjee, Avishek; Wu, Guangyao; Primakov, Sergey et al

in PLoS ONE (2021), 16(4), 0249920

OBJECTIVE: To establish whether one can build a mortality prediction model for COVID-19 patients based solely on demographics and comorbidity data that outperforms age alone. Such a model could be a ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVE: To establish whether one can build a mortality prediction model for COVID-19 patients based solely on demographics and comorbidity data that outperforms age alone. Such a model could be a precursor to implementing smart lockdowns and vaccine distribution strategies. METHODS: The training cohort comprised 2337 COVID-19 inpatients from nine hospitals in The Netherlands. The clinical outcome was death within 21 days of being discharged. The features were derived from electronic health records collected during admission. Three feature selection methods were used: LASSO, univariate using a novel metric, and pairwise (age being half of each pair). 478 patients from Belgium were used to test the model. All modeling attempts were compared against an age-only model. RESULTS: In the training cohort, the mortality group's median age was 77 years (interquartile range = 70-83), higher than the non-mortality group (median = 65, IQR = 55-75). The incidence of former/active smokers, male gender, hypertension, diabetes, dementia, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic cardiac disease, chronic neurological disease, and chronic kidney disease was higher in the mortality group. All stated differences were statistically significant after Bonferroni correction. LASSO selected eight features, novel univariate chose five, and pairwise chose none. No model was able to surpass an age-only model in the external validation set, where age had an AUC of 0.85 and a balanced accuracy of 0.77. CONCLUSION: When applied to an external validation set, we found that an age-only mortality model outperformed all modeling attempts (curated on www.covid19risk.ai) using three feature selection methods on 22 demographic and comorbid features. [less ▲]

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See detailMapping the human genetic architecture of COVID-19 by worldwide meta-analysis
The COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative; Gazon, Hélène; JUSZCZAK, Danusia ULiege et al

in Nature (2021)

The genetic makeup of an individual contributes to susceptibility and response to viral infection. While environmental, clinical and social factors play a role in exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 ... [more ▼]

The genetic makeup of an individual contributes to susceptibility and response to viral infection. While environmental, clinical and social factors play a role in exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 disease severity, host genetics may also be important. Identifying host-specific genetic factors indicate biological mechanisms of therapeutic relevance and clarify causal relationships of modifiable environmental risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection and outcomes. We formed a global network of researchers to investigate the role of human genetics in SARS-COV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity. We describe the results of three genome-wide association meta-analyses comprising 49,562 COVID-19 patients from 46 studies across 19 countries worldwide. We reported 15 genome-wide significant loci that are associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection or severe manifestations of COVID-19. Several of these loci correspond to previously documented associations to lung or autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. They also represent potentially actionable mechanisms in response to infection. We further identified smoking and body mass index as causal risk factors for severe COVID-19. The identification of novel host genetic factors associated with COVID-19, with unprecedented speed, was enabled by prioritization of shared resources and analytical frameworks. This working model of international collaboration a blue-print for future genetic discoveries in the event of pandemics or for any complex human disease. [less ▲]

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See detailLe point sur les stratégies médicamenteuses contre la COVID-19 : entre espoirs et déceptions.
Scheen, André ULiege; Moutschen, Michel ULiege

in Revue medicale de Liege (2020), 75(S1), 162-169

The COVID-19 outbreak has raised numerous attempts of diverse pharmacological interventions to improve the prognosis of the infection, especially among hospitalized patients due to an acute respiratory ... [more ▼]

The COVID-19 outbreak has raised numerous attempts of diverse pharmacological interventions to improve the prognosis of the infection, especially among hospitalized patients due to an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Initially, these interventions used known medications capable to directly target SARS-CoV-2 by investigating several antiviral therapies already applied with some success in other viral infections. Among them remdesivir appears to be the most promising drug against SARS-CoV-2. Then, owing to the deleterious impact of the cytokine storm, medications that more specifically inhibit proinflammatory cytokines (especially interleukin-1 and interleukin-6) were tested. Hydroxychloroquine, sometines combined with azithromycin, has benefited for a while from a media buzz. However, hopes initially founded in all such drugs turned into disappointments because the specificities of SARS-CoV-2 make this virus resistant to most pharmacological interventions. Only glucocorticoids, dexamethasone and hydrocortisone, were associated with a significant reduction in mortality of patients with ARDS due to COVID-19, most probably via non-specific anti-inflammatory effects. These corticosteroids are currently recommended by the World Health Organisation. An intensive research is ongoing worldwide to find effective combined therapies or innovative drugs which could unequivocally improve the prognosis of COVID-19 at the different stages of the infection. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of coronavirus pandemic and containment measures on HIV diagnosis
DARCIS, Gilles ULiege; VAIRA, Dolorès ULiege; MOUTSCHEN, Michel ULiege

in Epidemiology and Infection (2020)

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See detailSingle-center experience of patients with interstitial lung diseases during the early days of te COVID-19 pandemic.
GUIOT, Julien ULiege; HENKET, Monique ULiege; Frix, Anne-Noëlle ULiege et al

in Respiratory Investigation (2020), 58(6), 437-9

Introduction: Patients with interstitial lung diseases (ILD) can be suspected to be at risk of experiencing a rapid flare-up due to COVID-19. However, no specific data are currently available for these ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Patients with interstitial lung diseases (ILD) can be suspected to be at risk of experiencing a rapid flare-up due to COVID-19. However, no specific data are currently available for these patients. <br /> <br />Methods: We retrospectively analyzed a cohort of 401 patients with ILD and determined the proportion of patients hospitalized for proven severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and specific symptoms of COVID-19. <br /> <br />Results: We found that 1% of patients (n = 4) were hospitalized (1 in ICU) for COVID-19. In total, 310 of the 401 patients answered the phone call. Only 33 patients (0.08%) experienced specific symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. <br /> <br />Conclusion: Our study did not demonstrate any increased occurrence of severe COVID-19 in ILD patients compared to the global population. Based on our findings, we could not make any conclusion on the incidence rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with ILDs, or on the overall outcome of immunocompromised patients affected by COVID-19. [less ▲]

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See detailDevelopment and Validation of an Automated Radiomic CT Signature for Detecting COVID-19.
GUIOT, Julien ULiege; Vaidyanathan, Akshayaa; DEPREZ, Louis ULiege et al

in Diagnostics (Basel, Switzerland) (2020), 11(1),

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has reached pandemic status. Drastic measures of social distancing are enforced in society and healthcare systems are being pushed to and beyond their ... [more ▼]

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has reached pandemic status. Drastic measures of social distancing are enforced in society and healthcare systems are being pushed to and beyond their limits. To help in the fight against this threat on human health, a fully automated AI framework was developed to extract radiomics features from volumetric chest computed tomography (CT) exams. The detection model was developed on a dataset of 1381 patients (181 COVID-19 patients plus 1200 non COVID control patients). A second, independent dataset of 197 RT-PCR confirmed COVID-19 patients and 500 control patients was used to assess the performance of the model. Diagnostic performance was assessed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). The model had an AUC of 0.882 (95% CI: 0.851-0.913) in the independent test dataset (641 patients). The optimal decision threshold, considering the cost of false negatives twice as high as the cost of false positives, resulted in an accuracy of 85.18%, a sensitivity of 69.52%, a specificity of 91.63%, a negative predictive value (NPV) of 94.46% and a positive predictive value (PPV) of 59.44%. Benchmarked against RT-PCR confirmed cases of COVID-19, our AI framework can accurately differentiate COVID-19 from routine clinical conditions in a fully automated fashion. Thus, providing rapid accurate diagnosis in patients suspected of COVID-19 infection, facilitating the timely implementation of isolation procedures and early intervention. [less ▲]

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See detailDevelopment of a Clinical Decision Support System for Severity Risk Prediction and Triage of COVID-19 Patients at Hospital Admission: an International Multicenter Study.
Wu, Guangyao; Yang, Pei; Xie, Yuanliang et al

in European Respiratory Journal (2020)

BACKGROUND: The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has globally strained medical resources and caused significant mortality. OBJECTIVE: To develop and validate machine-learning model ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has globally strained medical resources and caused significant mortality. OBJECTIVE: To develop and validate machine-learning model based on clinical features for severity risk assessment and triage for COVID-19 patients at hospital admission. METHOD: 725 patients were used to train and validate the model including a retrospective cohort of 299 hospitalised COVID-19 patients at Wuhan, China, from December 23, 2019, to February 13, 2020, and five cohorts with 426 patients from eight centers in China, Italy, and Belgium, from February 20, 2020, to March 21, 2020. The main outcome was the onset of severe or critical illness during hospitalisation. Model performances were quantified using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and metrics derived from the confusion-matrix. RESULTS: The median age was 50.0 years and 137 (45.8%) were men in the retrospective cohort. The median age was 62.0 years and 236 (55.4%) were men in five cohorts. The model was prospectively validated on five cohorts yielding AUCs ranging from 0.84 to 0.89, with accuracies ranging from 74.4% to 87.5%, sensitivities ranging from 75.0% to 96.9%, and specificities ranging from 57.5% to 88.0%, all of which performed better than the pneumonia severity index. The cut-off values of the low, medium, and high-risk probabilities were 0.21 and 0.80. The online-calculators can be found at www.covid19risk.ai. CONCLUSION: The machine-learning model, nomogram, and online-calculator might be useful to access the onset of severe and critical illness among COVID-19 patients and triage at hospital admission. [less ▲]

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See detailGrowth hormone (GH) deficient mice with GHRH ablation are severely deficient in vaccine and immune responses against Streptococcus pneumoniae
Farhat, Khalil; Bodart, Gwennaëlle ULiege; Moutschen, Michel ULiege et al

in Acta Clinica Belgica (2018, December), 73(6 (Suppl.2)),

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See detailGrowth hormone (GH) deficient mice with GHRH ablation are severely deficient in vaccine and immune responses against Streptococcus pneumoniae
Farhat, Khalil; Bodart, Gwennaëlle ULiege; Charlet-Renard, Jeanne de Chantal ULiege et al

in Frontiers in Immunology (2018), 9

The precise impact of the somatotrope axis upon the immune system is still highly debated. We have previously shown that mice with generalized ablation of growth hormone (GH) releasing hormone (GHRH) gene ... [more ▼]

The precise impact of the somatotrope axis upon the immune system is still highly debated. We have previously shown that mice with generalized ablation of growth hormone (GH) releasing hormone (GHRH) gene (Ghrh−/−) have normal thymus and T-cell development, but present a marked spleen atrophy and B-cell lymphopenia. Therefore, in this paper we have investigated vaccinal and anti-infectious responses of Ghrh−/− mice against S. pneumoniae, a pathogen carrying T-independent antigens. Ghrh−/− mice were unable to trigger production of specific IgM after vaccination with either native pneumococcal polysaccharides (PPS, PPV23) or protein-PPS conjugate (PCV13). GH supplementation of Ghrh−/− mice restored IgM response to PPV23 vaccine but not to PCV13 suggesting that GH could exert a specific impact on the spleen marginal zone that is strongly implicated in T-independent response against pneumococcal polysaccharides. As expected, after administration of low dose of S. pneumoniae, wild type (WT) completely cleared bacteria after 24 h. In marked contrast, Ghrh−/− mice exhibited a dramatic susceptibility to S. pneumoniae infection with a time-dependent increase in lung bacterial load and a lethal bacteraemia already after 24 h. Lungs of infected Ghrh−/− mice were massively infiltrated by inflammatory macrophages and neutrophils, while lung B cells were markedly decreased. The inflammatory transcripts signature was significantly elevated in Ghrh−/− mice. In this animal model, the somatotrope GHRH/GH/IGF1 axis plays a vital and unsuspected role in vaccine and immunological defense against S. pneumoniae. [less ▲]

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