I thank Dres. Alnaes and Helnes Bergen for their stimulating comment on my medical algorithm on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Radiocontrast Media Hypersensitivity.1 In their comment, they raised attention to the possible addition of desensitization to radiocontrast media (RCM) management, which was not depicted in the algorithm.2 I have been well aware of several reports on desensitization and have already discussed them in a previous paper, however commented there that “successful desensitization of RCM has been reported for immediate hypersensitivity reactions to RCM, but it is only used anectodically” and concluded not to include this procedure into the algorithm.3In addition to the two papers on desensitization to RCM cited by Dr. Alaes, also a handful other cases have been published, some of them older. To my knowledge, at least as far as I can access these case reports, in none of these patients a proper allergy diagnosis and management has been performed and in most, if not all of these patients, desensitization probably was unnecessary. In the described cases, skin testing has not been performed or was even negative indicating a higher probability for a non-allergic immediate hypersensitivity reaction (IHR), in the history before desensitization was performed in several cases the RCM was not changed, but the same not tolerated RCM was given again and radiologists in vain relied on premedication to prevent recurrent attacks, and no skin test-negative RCM was identified and used. None of the cases published convinced me of the need for desensitization. Performing the examination with a skin test-negative RCM would with a high probability be successful.4 I would expect the success of desensitization was rather due to changing to a different isoosmolar RCM (and probably not to adding premedication) than the desensitization procedure itself, as alone changing the implicated RCM to another one in one study reduced the risk of recurrent IHR by 67.1% (odds ratio: 0.329; P = 0.001), whereas steroid premedication did not show protective effects.5Our group of European Network on Drug Allergy experts have highlighted that rapid desensitization is a procedure that can be used to provide a temporary tolerance to a first-line drug when no alternative is available.6 This implies for RCM hypersensitivity that using a skin-test-negative RCM for the next examination as an alternative drug is next step and not immediate desensitization. One problem with desensitization is that too many doctors employ it uncritically and without prior proper allergy workup, best with drug provocation test. The high rate of successful desensitizations without prior confirmation of drug hypersensitivity in the literature is in part explained by the fact that many of those patients would not have reacted anyway. I have yet to find convincing evidence to add desensitization as a standard therapeutic option to the RCM management algorithm.Having said this, I am eagerly following up the literature on RCM desensitization with great interest to be prepared, should I encounter an own patient, who would react severely to an alternative skin test-negative RCM after following the algorithm. Until now, colleagues and I have not met such a patient, however, I would seriously consider desensitization as an option in such a situation. Thus, I thank Dres. Alnaes and Helsen Bergen for bringing up that interesting topic for discussion.
Trained immunity refers to the fact that the innate immune system also demonstrates memory, resulting in a faster and more profound second innate reaction, days to weeks after a first reaction to another pathogen or vaccine. Thus, trained immunity is heterologous, non-specific. We applied this principle with MMR vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic.In a prospective, observational, single-center study 255 subjects, most at high risk for infection with COVID-19, received preventive MMR vaccination; 36 got infected with COVID-19; all had a mild course, even though 40% had risk factors. This might in part be due to trained immunity, conveying innate immune memory secondary to MMR vaccination, enhancing the innate immune response once the subject gets infected with SARS-CoV-2.As a result the well-known immune suppression brought about by coronavirus might not work so well, as the innate immune system is primed, allowing the body to finally eliminate the virus more efficiently.
Drug hypersensitivity reactions (DHRs) represent a global threat to healthcare systems due to their incidence, with a significant increase over last years1. DHR figures are overestimated in the general population since less than 40% of cases initially labelled as allergic can be confirmed as such when evaluated in an allergy unit2. Achieving an accurate diagnosis is complex and time consuming; besides, tests must be tailored to specific clinical manifestations and underlying mechanisms and will depend on the culprit drugs. Diagnosis often requires performing drug provocation tests (DPTs), which are especially problematic for severe reactions, making management of these patients challenging and expensive for the health care system.Clinically, DHRs are classified into immediate and non-immediate, based on the time interval between drug exposure and onset of the symptoms3. The most severe immediate reaction is anaphylaxis. This issue of the journal has been dedicated o drug hypersensitivity, which is becoming a major public health issue during the last decade, especially with the introduction of biologicals to medicine. Bilo et al. 4 evaluated the anaphylaxis mortality rate in Italy from 2004 to 2016 and found an average mortality rate for definite anaphylaxis (ICD-10 code) of 0.51 per million population per year, mostly due to the use of medications (73.7%), although in 98% of the cases culprit drugs were not identified. Regarding non-immediate reactions, one of the most challenging diagnoses is drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), which is sometimes difficult, at an early stage, due to overlapping clinical symptoms with maculopapular exanthema (MPE). Pedruzzi et al. 5 identified 7 microRNAs (miRNAs) that correctly classified DRESS or MPE patients and were associated with keratinocyte differentiation/skin inflammation, type I IFN pathway viral replication, ATP-binding cassette transporters, and T lymphocyte polarisation, being all of them potential biomarkers. Non-immunologically mediated adverse reactions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are reported by Fuhrmannet al. 6 in association with systemic H1-antihistamines administration in school-age children, especially the 1st generation agents.The mechanism underlying DHR and the reason why patients treated with the same drug develop a tolerance response or an immediate or non-immediate DHR is not completely understood (Figure 1). Therefore, the prediction of who may experience a DHR, and if so, in what form, remains clinically obscure for most drugs. Goh SJR et al. 7 elegantly analyse this complexity, using non-immediate reactions to penicillins as a model. They focus on the understanding of the role of nature of the lesional T cells, the characterisation of drug-responsive T cells isolated from patient blood, and the potential mechanisms by which penicillins enter the antigen-processing and presentation pathway to stimulate these deleterious responses.Regarding specific drugs involved in allergy, betalactam antibiotics (BL) are the most frequent culprit, being many reactions mediated by IgE. This type of reaction varies among patients, with some reacting only to one BL and others to several of them; it tends to change over time and differs between European countries, depending on BL consumption. Nowadays, amoxicillin (AX), alone or in combination with the β-lactamase inhibitor clavulanic acid (CLV), is the most often prescribed BL worldwide (Figure 2) and the most common elicitor of reactions in both children and adults. It is unclear why patients after the administration of AX-CLV develop selective hypersensitivity to AX, while tolerating CLV and vice-versa. Ariza et al. 8 generated drug-specific T-cell clones from AX- or CLV-selective immediate hypersensitivity patients and found that both AX- and CLV-specific clones were generated irrespective of whether AX or CLV was the culprit, although a higher secretion of Th2 cytokines (IL-13 and IL-5) was detected when clones were activated with the culprit BL compared with clones stimulated with the tolerated BL, in which higher secretion of Th1 cytokines (IFN-γ) was observed. Regarding selective non-immediate reactions to CLV, Copaescu A et al. 9 report on a cohort of patients with a history of non-immediate reaction to CLV, who demonstrated a delayed intradermal skin test response to CLV, 17% were allergic to both CLV and ampicillin, and 83% were selective reactors with good tolerance to AX. IFN-γ release enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) was performed giving a sensitivity of 33%. Other drugs such as sulphonamides, either antibiotic or non-antibiotics are important triggers of non-immediate DHRs. Vilchez-Sanchez et al. 10 showed that lymphocyte transformation tests (LTT) can help avoid the performance of DPT with a sensitivity of 75%, a specificity of 100%, and negative and positive predictive values of 72.7% and 100%, respectively.There has been a great expansion in the use of biological agents (mainly monoclonal antibodies (mAbs)), and they have greatly improved the treatment landscape of hemato-oncologic, autoimmune, inflammatory and rheumatologic diseases. In parallel, the incidence rate of reported DHRs associated with these products has increased considerably within the last years, ranging from mild to life-threatening. Yang BC et al. 11 recommend risk stratification as the first step for managing patients with DHRs to these drugs. In cases with negative skin test and mild reactions, DPT is an option, and in moderate or severe reactions, desensitisation becomes the preferred approach. In cases with positive skin test, desensitisation is the recommended course of action, especially when there is no alternative medication. Desensitisation is also widely used in the management of immediate hypersensitivity reactions to chemotherapy agents, such as platinums. There is suspicion about the presence of a longer memory of tolerance in subsequent desensitisation protocols partially resembling the regulatory tolerance mechanisms induced by allergen immunotherapy. Tüzer et al. 12 demonstrate the possible role of IL-10 in desensitisation with platinums, as they found a dynamic change in serum IL-10 levels observed as an increase during desensitisation and a decrease in between the protocols.Finally, a wide spectrum of drugs has been considered for treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and all of them can potentially induce DHRs. Gelincik A et al .13 reviewed DHRs in COVID-19 times to these drugs, with knowledge mainly coming from previous clinical experience in patients not infected with COVID-19. As in other viral infections, skin symptoms, including exanthemas, may appear during the evolution of the disease, leading to differential diagnosis with DHRs. Whether COVID-19 can aggravate T–cell mediated DHRs reactions as some viruses is at present unknown.We can conclude that new drugs are continuously introduced into the markets and confirmed as inducers of hypersensitivity reactions. We still do not completely understand the mechanisms underlying many of these reactions and further studies for improving diagnostic and management are needed even in classic and well-studied drugs as BLs.Abbreviations: AX: Amoxicillin; CLV: Clavulanic acid; COVID-19: Coronavirus disease 2019; DHR: Drug hypersensitivity reactions; DPT: Drug provocation tests; DRESS: Drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms; ELISpot: enzyme-linked immunospot; LTT: Lymphocyte transformation tests; MPE: Maculopapular exanthema.
Large differences in COVID-19 death rates exist between countries and between regions of the same country. Some very low death rate countries such as Eastern Asia, Central Europe or the Balkans have a common feature of eating large quantities of fermented foods. Although biases exist when examining ecological studies, fermented vegetables or cabbage were associated with low death rates in European countries. SARS-CoV-2 binds to its receptor, the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). As a result of SARS-Cov-2 binding, ACE2 downregulation enhances the angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1R) axis associated with oxidative stress. This leads to insulin resistance, lung and endothelial damage, two severe outcomes of COVID-19. The nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) is the most potent antioxidant in humans and can block the AT1R axis. Cabbage contains precursors of sulforaphane, the most active natural activator of Nrf2. Fermented vegetables contain many lactobacilli, which are also potent Nrf2 activators. It is proposed that fermented cabbage is a proof-of-concept of dietary manipulations that may enhance Nrf2-associated antioxidant effects helpful in mitigating COVID-19 severity.
To the Editor,The proportion of the population with allergic diseases has increased rapidly in recent decades1, 2. In addition to affecting the quality of life, a significant economic burden of these diseases was transferred to society and the national health care system1. China is a large country with a rapidly developing economy, wide geography, and diverse climate and lifestyles, which may lead to significantly regional differences in the distribution of allergens. Although a series of studies have explored the prevalence of allergen sensitization in China, the majority of them focus on one part of geography in China3-5. In 2009, a study6 was conducted to estimate the prevalence of common aeroallergens among patients with allergic asthma and/or rhinitis in mainland China. Although the study investigated the differences of the prevalence in different regions of China, it divided China into only four geographical regions, which may neglect detailed information about the characteristics of sensitization prevalence in different places in China. In that study, the skin prick test (SPT) was used to detect the sensitization to allergens. The method has low accuracy for positive results because it is heavily affected by certain factors, such as the skill of the tester, reagent used, interpretation of results and so on. Our research has the following different characteristics compared with previous studies: 1) covering a variety of allergic diseases, 2) exploring both aeroallergens and food allergens simultaneously, 3) including a large set of data from all the seven regions of mainland China, and 4) using an internationally recognized method of sIgE testing, ImmunoCAP, to detect sensitization. These advantages may help us obtain more accurate and reliable results and conclusions.Here, we conducted a large multicenter study on the prevalence patterns of serum allergen-specific IgE (sIgE) sensitization to the four most common food allergens (i.e., egg whites, cow’s milk, crab, and shrimp) and five aeroallergens (i.e., house dust mite, German cockroach, tree pollen mix, mold mix, dog dander) among 44156 patients with allergic symptoms in 52 cities from 26 provinces of all the seven geographical regions in mainland China from July 2015 to June 2018. The sIgE sensitization was tested by a certified third-party laboratory service provider with uniform and standardized procedures. This study was approved by the ethics committee of the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University (Approval number: GYFYY-2017-18). Details about the methods were in the supplementary materials .Our study showed that the overall prevalence of positive sIgE responses to the 9 allergens across mainland China from the highest to the lowest was 33.74% for house dust mites, 24.5% for cockroaches, 19.97% for shrimp, 17.31% for crab, 11.62% for cow’s milk, 10.92% for egg whites, 9.35% for tree pollen mix, 4.02% for dog dander and 3.92% for mold mix (Table 1 ). Our study confirmed that an observation shown in several previous studies based on certain specific areas in China3-5 that the positive cases in sIgE fell mainly in the two low classes (i.e., classes 1 and 2) was also held in all the seven regions in mainland China (Table 1 ).Our study revealed the distinctive patterns in the prevalence of allergen sensitization among regions, gender, age groups and seasons. Geographically, there is a significant difference in the prevalence among regions for all 9 allergens except for the mold mix (Table S1 ). House dust mites were the allergen with the highest prevalence of sensitization in all seven regions, with the highest in South China (40.79%) and the lowest in Northeast China (11.21%). Allergies to German cockroaches had a higher prevalence in southern regions (Southwest China, South China and East China) than in northern regions (North China and Northeast China). The prevalence of sIgE responses to dog dander was the highest in North China and was very close to each other in the southern regions. The prevalence of the egg whites and milk in Central China, East China and South China was higher than in Southwest China, North China and Northeast China, which means that patients living in eastern, coastal and/or southern areas were more sensitive to egg whites and cow’s milk. The prevalence of crab and shrimp sensitization in Southwest China and South China was higher than that in the northern regions (North China and Northeast China). The heatmap (Figure 1 ) displays the distribution of the prevalence of the sIgE response to allergens in different regions of mainland China.The prevalence of sensitization to all nine allergens was higher overall in males than in females (Table 1 and Figure S1 ) although that may not be true in each age group for each allergen as shown in the forest plot in Figure S1 . Our study showed that, whereas the sensitization to egg whites and milk was the highest in children, the sensitization to other allergens tended to be the highest in teenagers and young adults (Figure S2 ). Figure S3displays he prevalence pattern of allergens by months across years. The prevalence of dog dander and mold mix was very stable across months; however, the prevalence of other allergens fluctuated from January to December. The prevalence of house dust mites, German cockroach, shrimp and crab were higher in the summer months (from June to August) than in other months. The prevalence of tree pollen mix was much higher in April and October than in other months.This should be the first large study to investigate the prevalence of allergen sensitization in the patients with allergic symptoms from all the seven geographic regions of mainland China. Based on this study, we found that the prevalence of sIgE sensitization to allergens displayed obvious and distinctive patterns among regions, gender, age groups and seasons. The reasons for these patterns may include lifestyle factors, socioeconomic factors, genetic predispositions, climate, sexual hormones, cross-reactivity and so on3,4,6-9. Please refer to the supplementary materials for the detailed discussion on the factors that influenced these variations. Our findings may help clinicians find effective individualized treatments for unique patient groups and direct researchers to conduct further studies on the epidemiology of allergic diseases.
Modern healthcare requires a proactive and individualized response to diseases, combining precision diagnosis and personalized treatment. Accordingly, the approach to patients with allergic diseases encompasses novel developments in the area of personalized medicine, disease phenotyping and endotyping and the development and application of reliable biomarkers. A detailed clinical history and physical examination followed by the detection of IgE immunoreactivity against specific allergens still represents the state of the art. However, nowadays, further emphasis focuses on the optimization of diagnostic and therapeutic standards and a large number of studies have been investigating the biomarkers of allergic diseases, including asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, food allergy, urticaria and anaphylaxis. Various biomarkers have been developed by omics technologies, some of which lead to a better classification of the distinct phenotypes or endotypes. The introduction of biologicals to clinical practice increases the need for biomarkers for patient selection, prediction of outcomes and monitoring, to allow for an adequate choice of the duration of these costly and long-lasting therapies. Escalating healthcare costs together with questions on the efficacy of the current management of allergic diseases requires further development of a biomarker-driven approach. Here, we review biomarkers in diagnosis and treatment of asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, viral infections, chronic rhinosinusitis, food allergy, drug hypersensitivity and allergen-immunotherapy with a special emphasis on specific IgE, microbiome and epithelial barrier. In addition, EAACI guidelines on biologicals are discussed within the perspective of biomarkers.
EDITORIAL The average global temperatures on our planet are increasing due to rising anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2).1,2 There is an urgent need to call for action on global warming, which is resulting in extreme weather and related catastrophes.1 ,2 The Earth’s rising temperature is evidenced by warming of the oceans, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and the diminished snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. Climate-related factors can affect interactive atmospheric components (chemical and biological) and their interrelationship with human health.Climate change, a physics and meteorological event that affects health in the whole biosphere started to receive attention around the mid-twentieth century. Air pollution is the driving force of the Earth’s warming powered by the greenhouse effect (Figure 1). Environmental changes are occurring in frequency, intensity, type of precipitation, and extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, blizzards, thunderstorms, sandstorms, and hurricanes. These are real and daunting challenges for the human and biosphere health, impacting the food and water supplies.1 ,2 Urbanization, with its high level of vehicle emissions and westernized lifestyle, is linked to the rising levels of particulate matter in the air, food supplies, soil, freshwater, and oceans. These environmental changes are correlated with the increased frequency of respiratory allergic diseases and bronchial asthma observed over recent decades in most industrialized countries and is continuously rising in developing countries.1-5This issue of Allergy focuses on the interrelationship between climate change, air pollution and human health.3-7Climate change is an important medical aspect in allergology as we are observing an increasing incidence of allergic diseases indirectly related to rising temperatures and are becoming a high socio-economic burden.1-3,8 Allergies and asthma appear to be at the front line of the sequelae of climate change along with infectious and cardiovascular diseases.1,5Cecchi et al. focus on the development and exacerbation of allergic diseases can be explained in terms of the exposome, a concept that includes all the environmental exposures from conception onwards. Multiple factors can trigger a pollen-induced respiratory allergy, such as airborne endotoxin levels and microbial composition of pollen, and these comprise a “pollen exposome”.4,9Susan Prescott has written an editorial in this issue bringing the attention to climate change and bidiversity aspects. At the time of Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing 50 years ago, Prof. Rene Dubos, a renowned microbiologist, delivered the seminal lecture “The Spaceship Earth”. He was ahead of his time and warned of an “altered immunity” driven by environmental problems and loss of biodiversity. Most of his predictions proved correct and we are now understanding at a molecular level the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in allergic diseases.8Climate change indirectly affects allergies by altering the pollen concentrations, allergenic potential, composition, migration of species and growth of new ones. Air pollution and climate change have resulted in the faster growth of allergenic plants, increasing the aeroallergen load for patients with inhalant allergy. Phenological studies indicate longer pollen seasons and emerge earlier in the year.1,4,5,8 Pollen and mold allergies are generally used to evaluate the interrelationship between air pollution and allergic respiratory diseases, such as rhinitis and asthma. Studies show that plants exhibit enhanced photosynthesis and reproductive effects and produce more pollen as a response to high atmospheric levels of CO2. 1,4,8 Pollen allergens have been demonstrated to trigger the release of pro-inflammatory and immunomodulatory mediators that accelerate the onset of allergy and the IgE-mediated sensitization. Lightning storms or wet conditions rupture the pollen grains releasing the allergenic proteins that cause asthma exacerbations in patients with pollinosis (thunderstorm-asthma).1,3,4,7,10 As a result of climate change, patients with seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma have more intense symptoms and need stronger medication.1,4,8 In addition to respiratory illnesses, Fairweather et al. demonstrate the effect of environmental changes on cardiovascular, brain and mind, gastrointestinal, skin, immunologic and metabolic effects.1,3,4,7 The migration of stinging and biting insects to cooler climates has caused an increase in insect allergies in those areas.Prunicki et al. focus on the contribution of wildfires and deforestation and their contribution to global warming and immunological effects. It should be noted that in the last fifty years, half of the pluvial forests on Earth have been lost. Deforestation and forestation degradation is estimated to occur at a rate of 13 million hectares per year, mostly for agricultural purposes. Wildfires are becoming increasingly frequent, posing a serious risk to human health. The fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in wildfire smoke exacerbates asthma attacks, among other health problems. A study of 67 subjects demonstrated that those exposed to wildfire smoke had significantly higher levels of C-reactive protein and IL-1β compared with controls.6 The elevated levels of these two biomarkers are indicative of airway inflammation.Global warming and climate change need actions throughout the whole world with joined forces of all capabilities. These efforts are sometimes hampered by the unresponsiveness of governmental institutions and the general population, the lack of infrastructure and poverty. An action plan is needed to disseminate information on health-related problems associated with climate change. Patients with pollen allergies or asthma should be educated on the higher health risk during a thunderstorm or pollen season and the need for appropriate medication if staying outdoors. In collaboration with environmental organizations, physicians should take the lead to promote actions to mitigate air pollution and advocate the need to reduce global warming to protect our health.
EDITORIAL Coronavirus disease‐19 (COVID‐19) is a new disease caused by SARS‐CoV2. Since the beginning of 2020, it has become one of the main challenges of our times, causing a high incidence of severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multiorgan failure and death1. At the root of COVID-19 lies the sudden development of ‘cytokine storms’, hyper-inflammatory responses involving the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1, IL-8, and MCP-1) that impair the gas exchange function of the lung and lead in select patients, mostly with underlying comorbidities, to multiorgan failure and death1,2. Additional complications triggered by ‘cytokine storms’ include endothelial dysfunction and hypercoagulation, increasing the risk of thromboembolytic events, and life-threatening cardiovascular complications. Anti-inflammatory therapies are thus being considered for alleviating the damaging side effects of hyper-inflammation with many trials including anti-cytokine biologicals, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and corticosteroids being ongoing3. Surprisingly, among them dexamethasone has taken center stage as initial results from the RECOVERY trial, a large multicenter randomized open-label trial for hospitalized patients run in the United Kingdom, revealed notable efficacy in the treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients4.Dexamethasone is one of the oldest synthetic glucocorticoid agonists synthesized in 1957 and introduced into the clinic in 1961. When administered at 6 mg daily, either orally or intravenously for 10 days, dexamethasone was shown in the RECOVERY trial to improve survival rates of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 receiving oxygen or being on mechanical ventilation by a remarkable 30%4. Benefit was restricted to patients requiring respiratory support whereas in milder cases this was not clear. This notable efficacy of dexamethasone treatment goes against the current view of corticosteroid use in respiratory viral infections which remains contradictory. Although corticosteroids improve ventilator weaning and can lower the intensity of the host response to the virus, tempering the ‘cytokine storm’ and limiting immunopathology, they can also reduce viral clearance and lead to more severe disease. Understanding therefore how dexamethasome mediates its effects is of paramount importance.Dexamethasone, as other corticosteroids, is held to mediate its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects via the glucocorticoid receptor. Upon ligand binding, the receptor-corticosteroid molecule complex moves into the cell nucleus, where it dimerizes and binds to glucocorticoid response elements (GRE), acting as transcriptional repressor or transactivator of diverse sets of genes. This results in the inhibition of inflammatory cell activity, including neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes, and the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF and interleukins and other genes such as cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase5. However, we have recently uncovered that dexamethasone can also induce the D-series proresolving lipid mediator pathway leading to the production of 17-HDHA and the protectins D1 and DX6. These are potent major players of the molecular machinery driving the resolution of inflammation, i.e. the proper regulated termination of pro-inflammatory responses involving the catabolism of pro-inflammatory mediators, the removal of inflammatory cells and the restoration of the tissue in a timely and highly coordinated manner7. Although resolution of inflammation has long been considered to occur spontaneously as a result of the waning of pro-inflammatory responses, this is now known to be an ordered and highly regulated process involving the timely production of enzymatically oxygenated lipid-derived mediators such as protectins, D-series resolvins and maresins derived from the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), E-series resolvins derived from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and lipoxins biosynthesized from omega-6 fatty acids following eicosanoid class switching7. Interestingly, certain lipid mediators have been shown to exert additional non-conventional functions; resolvin D4 can attenuate pathologic thrombosis, reduce NETosis and promote clot removal8 which is now recognized as a key pathology of COVID-19 infection, while resolvin E4 (RvE4) stimulates efferocytosis of senescent erythrocytes in hemorrhagic exudates especially under hypoxic conditions that characterize COVID-199. Moreover, corticosteroids have been reported to reduce fibrinogen and procoagulant factors under pro-inflammatory conditions and increase anticoagulant factors10.The ability of viral infections to induce proresolving lipids has been reported earlier. Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), a major pattern recognition receptor of viral RNA, activates PD1 and PDX production11. Moreover, influenza virus infection has been demonstrated to drive proresolving lipid mediator networks including the production of PD1 which limits influenza pathogenicity by directly interacting with the RNA replication machinery to inhibit viral RNA nuclear export12,13. Notably, in particularly virulent strains of influenza virus such as the H5N1 avian strain, PD1 formation is not sufficiently upregulated, leading to more efficient viral replication and host demise12. It is therefore plausible that the efficacy of dexamethasone in COVID-19 is due at least in part to its ability to induce proresolving lipid mediators that possess multiple anti-inflammatory and proresolving actions tempering down inflammation and promoting its resolution, preventing coagulation and enhancing viral and bacterial clearance (Figure 1) yet are not immunosuppressive . Whether other corticosteroids beyond dexamethasone can also mediate such effects, and to what extent, is not known. Whether inhalable corticosteroids, such as those given to asthmatic patients, can also induce proresolving lipid mediator networks locally and thus prevent the development of severe SARS‐CoV‐2 infection remains to be determined. There is evidence that asthmatic patients exhibit reduced incidence of severe and/or critical COVID-1914.Recently, COVID-19 patients showed increased association of serum arachidonate-derived proinflammatory lipid mediators, e.g. prostaglandins, in severe COVID -19 infections while some pro-resolving mediators such as resolvin E3 were up-regulated in the moderate COVID-19 group suggesting that an imbalance in lipid mediators with a swift toward pro-inflammatory mediators in severe disease may contribute to COVID-19 disease severity15. Although the involvement of proresolving lipid mediator pathways in COVID-19 is an attractive hypothesis, further evidence from human trials is needed as there are no studies at present reporting the induction or modulation of such networks in the context of the various disease stages and treatments. It is thus of uttermost priority to investigate proresolving lipid mediators in COVID-19, in a temporal and longitudinal manner, as modulating these networks either through drug treatment or direct administration of resolvin and protectins agonists has the potential to affect this highly lethal and devastating disease in a way other approaches cannot. Such studies are therefore eagerly awaited.
To the Editor, Sulforaphane [1-isothiocyanato-4-(methylsulfinyl)butane] is a clinically relevant nutraceutical compound present in cruciferous vegetables (Brassicaceae). It is used for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and may be involved in ageing.1Along with other natural nutrients, sulforaphane has been suggested to have a therapeutic value for the treatment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).2 Sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate stored in its inactive form glucoraphanin.3 The enzyme myrosinase, found in plant tissue and in the gut microbiome, is involved in the conversion of glucoraphanin to its active form sulforaphane.4
Dear Editor: I read with interest the report by Antonella et al.1 This report described a case of the acute scrotum caused by Anisakis . As the authors write, this condition is rare in its own right. However, I would like to discuss two other rare aspects of this case: that it occurred during childhood and that acute scrotal disease and anaphylaxis occurred simultaneously.There has been a long debate as to whether anaphylaxis caused by Anisakis occurs with the ingestion of live insect bodies only or with dead insect bodies as well.2 Since several allergen components of Anisakis have been identified and their tolerance to heat has been reported, it is theoretically possible that anaphylaxis could occur with the ingestion of dead larvae body parts. However, some reports suggest that even patients sensitized to Anisakis may not develop allergic symptoms with the ingestion of frozen Anisakis larvae.3Nevertheless, there have been very few cases of gastrointestinal anisakiasis and anaphylaxis occurring simultaneously. In fact, previous literature has shown that in 40 cases of anaphylaxis which occurred due to the ingestion of live fish, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy revealed no difference in phenotype between the 20 cases in which live larvae were found and the 20 cases in which they were not found, and even in the case of live Anisakis bodies, the abdominal symptoms were minor.4 Of the 128 cases included in our previous study, only one could be said to have developed anaphylaxis and gastric anisakiasis simultaneously.5The patient we experienced was a 36-year-old woman with a previous history of gastric anisakiasis. Urticaria, watery diarrhea and vomiting, and respiratory distress developed three hours after eating sashimi (sliced raw fish) of young yellowtail. The patient was rapidly administered adrenaline intramuscular injection, followed by H1/H2 blockers and methylprednisolone, and admitted to the hospital for observation. However, after a day of admission, she continued to complain of intermittent epigastric pain and underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. A live Anisakis larva was found in the gastric cavity, and the epigastric pain disappeared after its removal. This case was negative for fish-specific IgE and positive forAnisakis -specific IgE (ImmunoCAP🄬 fluorescent enzyme immunoassay). Similar cases have been reported recently by Shikino et al.6The reason for such phenotypic variations after the ingestion of liveAnisakis is a direction for future research. From this perspective, it would be very interesting to explore what pathological changes, e.g., eosinophilic granulomatous changes, had occurred in the scrotum or lungs of the boy described in Antonella et al. I believe that these characteristics are important to determine the cause of the respiratory impairment in this case.Further, it is interesting to note that this phenomenon occurred in an 8-year-old boy. Only one in our 128 cases of fish-associated anaphylaxis was under 10 years of age, and this case was positive for the IgE specific to horse mackerel and mackerel.5 Therefore, the group I analyzed did not include cases of Anisakisanaphylaxis under the age of 10 years. The case described in Antonella’s manuscript does not appear to have undergone a specific IgE test or other skin tests. However, given the rarity of Anisakisanaphylaxis in this age group, anaphylaxis due to other culprits such as parvalbumin caused by fish ingestion should also be considered.Ryo Morishima MDDepartment of Neurology, Tokyo Metropolitan Neurological Hospital,Tokyo, JapanReferenceAntonella C, Stellario C, Aurelio M, Domenico S, Domenico S, Ilaria PP, et al. Acute scrotum in a 8-year-old Italian child caused by extraintestinal anisakiasis in a seaside area. Allergy 2020 [in press]Nieuwenhuizen NE. Anisakis – immunology of a foodborne parasitosis. Parasite Immunology 2016 Sep;38(9):548-57. doi: 10.1111/pim.12349. PMID: 27428817Alonso-Gómez A, Moreno-Accillo A, López-Serrano MC, Suarez-de-Parga JM, Daschner A, Cabañas R, et al. Anisakis simplex only provokes allergic symptoms when the worm parasitizes the gastrointestinal tract. Parasitol Res. 2004 Aug;93(5):378-84. doi: 10.1007/s00436-004-1085-9. PMID: 15221464Daschner A, Alonso-Gómez A, Cabañas R, Suarez-de-Parga JM, López-Serrano MC. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000 Jan;105(1 Pt 1):176-81. doi: 10.1016/s0091-6749(00)90194-5. PMID: 10629469Morishima R, Motojima S, Tsuneishi D, Kimura T, Nakashita T, Nishino H, et al. Anisakis is a major cause of anaphylaxis in seaside areas: an epidemiological study in Japan. Allergy. 2020 Feb;75(2):441-444. doi: 10.1111/all.13987. PMID: 31315145Shikino K, Ikusaka M. Anaphylaxis induced by Anisakis . Intern Med 2019 Jul 15;58(14):2121. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.2428-18. PMID: 30918192
Background: The prevalence of tree nut allergy has increased worldwide, and cashew has become one of the most common food allergens. More critically, cashew allergy is frequently associated with severe anaphylaxis. Despite the high medical need, no approved treatment is available and strict avoidance and preparedness for prompt treatment of allergic reactions are considered dual standard of care. In the meantime, Phase III study results suggest investigational epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT) may be a relevant and safe treatment for peanut allergy and may improve the quality of life for many peanut allergic children. Objective: We aimed to evaluate the capacity of EPIT to provide protection against cashew-induced anaphylaxis in a relevant mouse model. Methods: A mouse model of IgE-mediated cashew anaphylaxis was first developed. Based upon this model, the efficacy of EPIT was evaluated by applying patches containing cashew allergens to cashew-sensitized mice. Cashew-specific antibody titers were measured throughout treatment. Treated mice were challenged orally to cashew and anaphylactic symptoms were monitored. Additionally, plasma levels of mast-cell proteases (mMCP)-1/7 were quantified from blood samples collected after challenge to evaluate IgE-induced mast-cell activation. Results: EPIT significantly decreased anaphylactic symptoms following challenge and increased cashew-specific IgG2a (equivalent of human IgG1). Interestingly, this protection was associated with a sharp decrease in mast-cell reactivity. Conclusion: We demonstrate that EPIT markedly reduced IgE-mediated allergic reactions in a mouse model of cashew allergy, which suggests that EPIT may be a relevant approach to treating cashew allergy.
This systematic review evaluates the efficacyand safety of omalizumab for chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU). Pubmed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library were searched for RCTs. Critical and important CSU-related outcomes were considered. The risk of bias and the certainty of the evidence were assessed using GRADE. Ten RCTs including 1620 subjects aged 12 to 75 years old treated with omalizumab for 16 to 40 weeks were evaluated. Omalizumab 150 mg: does not result in clinically meaningful improvement(high certainty) of the urticaria activity score (UAS)7 (mean difference (MD) -5; 95%CI -7.75 to -2.25) and the itch severity score(ISS)7 (MD -2.15; 95% CI -3.2 to -1.1); does not increase (moderate certainty) quality of life (QoL) (Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI); MD -2.01; 95%CI -3.22 to -0.81); decreases (moderate certainty) rescue medication use (MD -1.68; 95%CI -2.95 to -0.4). Omalizumab 300 mg:results in clinically meaningful improvements(moderate certainty)of the UAS7 (MD -11.05; 95%CI -12.87 to -9.24), theISS7 (MD -4.45; 95%CI -5.39 to -3.51), and QoL (high certainty)(DLQI; MD -4.03; 95% CI -5.56 to -2.5); decreases (moderate certainty) rescue medication use (MD -2.04; 95%CI -3.19 to -0.88) and drug-related serious AEs (RR 0.77; 95%CI 0.20 to 2.91).
This systematic review evaluates the efficacy, safety and economic impact of dupilumabcompared to standard of care for uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD). Pubmed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library were searched for RCTs and health economic evaluations. Critical and important AD-related outcomes were considered. The risk of bias and the certainty of the evidence were assessed using GRADE. Seven RCTs including 1845 subjects > 12 years treated with dupilumab16 to 52 weeks were evaluated. For adultsthere is high certainty that dupilumabdecreasesSCORAD (MD -30,72; 95%CI -34,65% to -26,79%) and EASI-75 (RR 3.09; 95%CI 2.45 to 3.89), pruritus (RR 2.96; 95%CI 2.37 to 3.70), rescue medication (RR 3.46; 95%CI 2.79 to 4.30), sleep disturbance (MD -7.29; 95%CI -8.23 to -6.35), anxiety/depression (MD -3.08; 95% CI -4.41 to -1.75) and improves quality of life (MD -4.80; 95% CI -5.55 to -4.06). The efficacy for adolescents is similar. Dupilumab-related adverse events (AEs) slightly increase (low certainty). The evidence for dupilumab-related serious AE is uncertain. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio ranged from 28,500 £ (low certainty) to 124,541 US$ (moderate certainty).More data on long term safety are needed both for children and adults, together with more efficacy data in the paediatric population.
To the Editor, Severe asthma (SA) is a chronic disease affecting around 3-8% of adult asthma population in Europe, with the refractory form estimated to occur in 0.1% of the general population (1,2). SA is characterized by increased use of healthcare resources (i.e. emergency room/hospital admissions, access to intensive care units (ICU), use of biologics) due to exacerbations compared to the less severe form. In the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, there is an ongoing debate on the role of asthma and use of immunomodulating drugs, like corticosteroids and biologics, on COVID-19 outcomes. According to available data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, asthma seems to play little role on the clinical severity or access to health resources, unlike other chronic conditions such as hypertension, obesity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3). However, to date, no information is available on the burden of SA on COVID-19 severity and hospitalization rates.A questionnaire was submitted to the Italian Registry of Severe Asthma (IRSA) network (4), assessing the prevalence and clinical characteristics of patients with SA who contracted COVID-19 during the outbreak in Italy (February 24th - May 18th 2020), and 41 out of 78 centers distributed evenly among different Italian regions participated to the survey (Figure 1a).Among the 558 subjects surveyed, 7 subjects contracted COVID-19 (1.25% of the national sample), with an average age of 54.5 years: 5 isolated at home/received home care (71.5%), while 2 subjects were admitted to the hospital (28.5%), none required accessed to ICU and no deaths were reported. All COVID-19 subjects with SA came from 2 regions of Northern Italy (6 Lombardy, 1 Emilia-Romagna, 3.7% of the regional population), all showing one or more comorbidities, and were treated with high-dose inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting beta-2 agonists (ICS-LABA) and biologics (see Table 1).We then compared our results with data provided by the Italian Department for Civil Protection in the same time period from the affected geographic areas (5), and we observed that the frequency of COVID-19 among subjects referred to IRSA centers strongly correlated with the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the corresponding province (Figure 1b). Furthermore, the hospitalization rate in COVID-19-SA subjects was not significantly different from the general population (24.1%, 23.6-24.6 95% C.I.; p=0.25, Chi-squared test). Lastly, we could not observe a significantly increased COVID-19 frequency in subjects undergoing high-dose ICS-LABA and biologics compared to SA treated with ICS-LABA alone (p=0.09, Fisher exact test).These findings from the IRSA registry offer some insights on the susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection, access to healthcare resources and mortality by SA patients.Given the low prevalence of SA in Italy (2), we expected less COVID-19-SA cases per region than what reported by the IRSA survey. However, we observed that the geographic location of COVID-19-SA patients mostly reflected the bimodal distribution of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, mainly clustered in Lombardy and neighboring regions, where the highest cumulative COVID-19 cases were recorded (>500/100000 cases per inhabitants) (5). In these areas, the prevalence of positive cases by province also strongly correlated with the frequency of COVID-19-SA patients observed in each IRSA center (Figure 1b), suggesting that patients with SA most likely contract the infection when high circulation of the virus within the area of residence is present. The lack of positive cases reported in Southern regions further proves this hypothesis, and demonstrates the efficacy of the lockdown measures adopted to contain the further spread of the virus.Our results also suggest no increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in SA treated with biologics compared to ICS-LABA alone. Although there is currently no strong evidence that biologics used in asthma might affect the risk of contracting COVID-19, new evidence suggests a protective effect of inhaled corticosteroids against viral entry by ACE2 receptor downregulation, that are usually prescribed at a high dose in SA (6), thus a possible explanation to the lack of observed differences in our cohort.Despite the severity of asthma and reported comorbidities, no ICU admissions were reported, and hospital admissions in COVID-19-SA subjects did not differ from the median rate observed in the same geographic areas (5). Furthermore, we could observe no difference in the median monthly hospitalization rate of SA patients in 2019 compared to 2020 in Lombardy region where both hospital-admitted subjects reside (0.97 vs 0.9%, IRSA data).Our result is consistent with recent literature, showing that asthma in Western countries was not associated with an increased hospitalization rate and ICU admissions due to COVID-19 (3,8). It is still debated if a protective effect of Th2-inflammation in a significant proportion of asthma sufferers (7), or concomitant anti-inflammatory therapy could be the reasons for such outcomes (6). However, if asthma patients with COVID-19 require intubation, the duration of hospitalization was shown to be longer than average (8).As for the role of biologics in COVID-19 disease progression, we could not observe an increase in hospital admissions in patients with SA treated with biologics compared to the general population, with the majority isolating at home and requiring no additional treatment. Considering that, in areas with high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, 68.2% of SA subjects were treated with either omalizumab or mepolizumab, our observations further prove the safety of biologics during the COVID-19 pandemic.Lastly, we did not observe any deaths in our cohort, but we speculate that this outcome is most likely due to the small sample size and younger average age. In fact, advanced age seems to be the most determining risk factor on mortality due to COVID-19 compared to other causes. (9)Taken together, our results point at a neutral role of SA in the COVID-19 disease course and hospital admissions. One major strengths of our study is that, by using a fast and inexpensive tool, we could outline the salient features of severe asthma and COVID-19 at a national level, while the major weakness is the limited number of SA subjects diagnosed with COVID-19, that could lead to sampling bias and low accuracy. Further confirmation of these results with an increased sample size is therefore warranted
To the Editor Since the end of February 2020 Italy, first non- Asian Country, has reported an ever increasing number of COronaVIrus Disease 19 (COVID-19) patients, which has reached over 200,000 confirmed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infected subjects and resulted in more than 34000 deaths (data updated to June 19th, 20201).Patients with asthma are potentially more severely affected by by SARS-CoV-2 infection 2 and it is well established that respiratory viral infections are associated with severe adverse outcomes in patients with asthma, including increased risk of asthma exacerbation episodes 3. Nonetheless, according to the epidemiological studies published so far, chronic pulmonary diseases are not amongst the most common clinical conditions in COVID-19 patients4About 5-10% of entire asthma population, are severe asthmatics5 and one would expect increased vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2 infection, but no data is so fare available ti confirm this hypothesis.We investigated the incidence of COVID-19, describing its clinical course, in the population of the Severe Asthma Network in Italy (SANI), one of the largest registry for severe asthma worldwide6, and in an additional Center (Azienda Ospedaliero Univeristaria di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy). All centers, have been contacted and inquired to report confirmed (i.e. patients with positive test result for the virus SARS-CoV-2 from analysis of nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimens) or highly suspect cases of COVID-19 (i.e. patients with symptoms, laboratory findings and lung imaging typical of COVID-19 but without access to nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimens because of clinical contingencies/emergency) among their cohorts of severe asthma. Demographic and clinical data of the entire cohort of severe asthmatics enrolled in the study and all reported cases of confirmed or suspect cases of COVID-19, have been obtained from the registry platform and collected from the additional Center. Additional data about COVID-19 symptoms, treatment and clinical course have been collected for all cases reported.Ethical issues and statistical analysis are reported in the online supplementary material.Twenty-six (1.73%) out of 1504 severe asthmatics had confirmed (11 out of 26) or highly suspect COVID-19 (15 out 26); eighteen (69.2%) were females and mean age was 56.2 ± 10 years. The geographical distribution of COVID-19 cases is presented in Figure 1.Nine (34.6%) infected patients experienced worsening of asthma during the COVID-19 symptomatic period; four of them needed a short course of oral corticosteroids for controlling asthma exacerbation symptoms.The most frequent COVID-19 symptoms reported were fever (100% of patients), malaise (84.6%), cough (80.8%), dyspnea (80.8%), headache (42.3%) and loss of smell (42.3%). Four patients (15.3%) have been hospitalized, one of which in intensive care unit; among hospitalized patients, two (7.7%) died for COVID-19 interstitial pneumonia. No deaths have been reported among the non-hospitalized patients.Severe asthmatics affected by COVID-19, had a significantly higher prevalence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) compared to non-infected severe asthma patients (15.4% vs 3.8%, p=0.002; odds ratio: 4.7). No difference was found in other comorbidities (including rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis with or without nasal polyps, bronchiectasis, obesity, gastroesophageal reflux, arterial hypertension, cardiovascular diseases).Twenty-one patients with COVID-19 were on biological treatments: 15 (71%) were on anti-IL-5 or anti-IL5R agents (Mepolizumab n= 13; Benralizumab n=2 - counting for the 2.9% of all severe asthmatics treated with anti-IL5 in our study population) and 6 (29%) were on anti IgE (Omalizumab - 1.3% of all severe asthmatics treated with omalizumab in our study population).Table I summarizes demographic and clinical characteristics of the 26 COVID-19 patients.In conclusion, in our large cohort of severe asthmatics, COVID-19 was infrequent, not supporting the concept of asthma as a particularly susceptible condition to SARS-COV2 infection 2. This is in line with the first published large epidemiological data on COVID-19 patients, in which asthma is under-reported as comorbidity4. The COVID-19 related mortality rate in our cohort of patients was 7.7%, lower than the COVID-19 mortality rate in the general population (14.5% in Italy 1). These findings suggest that severe asthmatics are not at high risk of the SARS-CoV-2 infection and of severe forms of COVID-19. There are potentially different reasons for this. Self-containment is the first, because of the awareness of virus infections acting as a trigger for exacerbations, and therefore they could have acted with greater caution, scrupulously respecting social distancing, lockdown and hygiene rules of prevention, and being more careful in regularly taking asthma medications.Another possible explanation stands in the intrinsic features of type-2 inflammation, that characterizes a great proportion of severe asthmatics. Respiratory allergies and controlled allergen exposures are associated with significant reduction in angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) expression 7, the cellular receptor for SARS-CoV-2. Interestingly, ACE2 and Transmembrane Serine Protease 2 (TMPRSS2) (another protein mediating SARS-CoV-2 cell entry) have been found highly expressed in asthmatics with concomitant NIDDM8, the only comorbidity that was more frequent reported in our COVID-19 severe asthmatics.The third possible explanation refers to the possibility that inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) might prevent or mitigate the development of Coronaviruses infections. By definition, patients with severe asthma are treated with high doses of ICS 5 and this may have had a protective effect for SARS-CoV-2 infection.Noteworthy, among the patients of our case-series of severe asthmatics with COVID-19, the proportion of those treated anti-IL5 biologics was higher (71%) compared to the number of patients treated with anti-IgE (29%). Although the number of cases is too small to draw any conclusion, it is tempting to speculate that different biological treatments can have specific and different impact on antiviral immune response. In addition we may speculate of the consequence of blood eosinophils reduction: eosinopenia has been reported in 52-90% of COVID-19 patients worldwide and it has been suggested as a risk factor for more severe COVID-19 9.In conclusion, in our large cohort of severe asthmatics only a small minority experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and these patients had peculiar clinical features including high prevalence of NIDDM as comorbidity. Further real-life registry-based studies are needed to confirm our findings and to extend the evidence that severe asthmatics are at low risk of developing COVID-19.
Reply to Morais-Almeida.To the Editor,We appreciate Dr. Morais-Almeida’s comments 1 about our Letter to the Editor, presenting additional literature about asthma prevalence in severe COVID-19 patients and highlighting data that contrasts our hypothesis that asthma, particularly type 2 asthma, may be protective against severe disease.The data that protection may be dependent on type 2 immunity is derived from the higher percentage of asthmatics being atopic2, also reflected in the series of ~2,500 patients regularly followed up in our Allergy Unit. Yu et al. 3 provided preliminary evidence about this in a single-center retrospective study, where COVID-19 atopic patients had less severe infections, milder lung damage compared to age- and gender- matched COVID-19 controls.ACE-2, the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, is linked to type 1 and 2 interferon signatures, and found to be overexpressed in type 2-low asthmatics4. Nevertheless, different outcomes in distinct asthma phenotypes still need to be addressed in COVID-19 studies.Besides Italy and China, reports from Russia 5 on ~1,300 intensive care unit patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection confirm the observation of a low prevalence of chronic lung diseases (i.e. asthma as well as COPD).Although preliminary data on the first COVID-19 cases in the US6 seem to contrast these observations, the higher prevalence of asthma in US COVID-19 hospitalised patients should be considered alongside a higher overall prevalence in these countries compared to Europe and China, as well as on the influence of other comorbidities (i.e. obesity) and host factors (i.e. age, race: 33% were non-Hispanic black patients in the study by Garg et al.) impacting COVID-19 outcomes. Another report from Sweden 7highlights the association between severe asthma and severe COVID-19.The severe asthma phenotype is often characterized by mixed granulocytic populations (neutrophilic and eosinophilic), prevalent type 1 inflammation, increased IFN-γ levels in the airways and ineffectiveness of ICS. This severe phenotype by itself, although accounting for less than 5% of asthmatic patients, would justify the CDC (and other institutions) including asthma as a risk factor for COVID-19. Data from the UK 8, apart from confirming the role of additional comorbidities, draw attention to the recent use of oral steroids, which, indeed, may be a clue for uncontrolled and/or severe asthma.Uncontrolled asthma is a risk factor for viral exacerbations and hospitalizations and we embrace the opportunity to stress the importance of optimal adherence to asthma controlling medications, regular follow-up and specialist-assessment of disease activity. Moreover, treatable comorbidities, which may impair asthma control, should always be managed. Promoting vaccination for preventable respiratory infections (i.e. Influenza and Pneumococcal pneumonia) is also advisable. Future studies may help better distinguishing the impact of different asthma phenotypes and comorbidities on COVID-19 outcome.Carli G.1, Cecchi L.1, Stebbing J.2, Parronchi P.3, Farsi A.11 SOS Allergy and Clinical Immunology, USL Toscana Centro, Prato Italy2 Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK3 Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
The “coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” outbreak was first reported in December 2019 (China). Since then, this disease has rapidly spread across the globe and in March 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 pandemic.1 Since the outbreak was first announced, our journal has extensively focused on the clinical features, outcomes, diagnosis, immunology, and pathogenesis of COVID-19 and its infectious agent severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We published our first COVID-19 article on 19 February, focusing for the first time on the clinical characteristics of 140 cases of human-to-human coronavirus transmission without any links to the Huanan Wet Market.2 Hypertension and diabetes were mentioned as risk factors and there was no increased prevalence in allergic patients. This early study reported that the main symptoms at hospital admission were fever (91.7%), cough (75.0%), fatigue (75.0%), gastrointestinal symptoms (39.6%), and dyspnea (36.7%). Lymphopenia and eosinopenia were also reported as important signs and biomarkers for monitoring and severity of the patients.2 The prevalent eosinopenia in COVID-19 patients and the possible anti-viral role of eosinophils were further discussed in several following publications inAllergy .3,4 Our second COVID-19 paper brought attention to the wide range of clinical manifestations of this disease, from asymptomatic cases to patients with mild and severe symptoms, with or without pneumonia as well as with only diarrhea.5Patients with common allergic diseases did not develop distinct symptoms and severe courses. Cases with pre-existing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or complicated with a secondary bacterial pneumonia were severe. Another article, timely appearing in our journal, alerted the scientific community that even in experienced hands there was a 14.1% false negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnosis in COVID-19 cases and were later diagnosed positive after repeated tests.6 A pediatric article was also published extensively analyzing 182 cases and it was reported that children with COVID-19 showed a mild clinical course.7 Patients with pneumonia had a higher proportion of fever and cough and increased inflammatory biomarkers compared to those without pneumonia. There were 43 allergic patients in this series and there was no significant difference between allergic and non-allergic COVID-19 children in disease incidence, clinical features, laboratory, and immunological findings. Allergy was not a risk factor for disease and severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection and did not significantly influence the disease course of COVID-19 in children.7The immunology of COVID-19 was extensively reviewed in two articles from leading experts with a comprehensive discussion of the tip of the iceberg in COVID-19 epidemiology, anti-viral response, antibody response to SARS-CoV-2, acute phase reactants, cytokine storm, and pathogenesis of tissue injury and severity. 8,9Two studies timely reported the role of possible trained immunity in countries with a Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination programme and a relatively low COVID-19 prevalence and mortality rate.10,11 In an extensive RNA sequencing analyses of SARS-CoV-2 receptor and their molecular partners revealed that ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were coexpressed at the epithelial sites of the lung and skin, whereas CD147 (BSG), cyclophilins (PPIA and PPIB), CD26 (DPP4) and related molecules were expressed in both, epithelium and in immune cells.12Allergists, respiratory physicians, pediatricians, and other health care providers treating patients with allergic diseases are frequently in contact with patients potentially infected with SARS-CoV-2. Practical considerations and recommendations given by experts in the field of allergic diseases can provide useful recommendations for clinical daily work. Since the beginning of this current pandemic, our journal has disseminated clinical reports, 2,3,5,6,13 statements on the urgent need for accuracy in designing and reporting clinical trials in COVID-19,14 preventive measures,10,11,15 and Position Statements elaborated by experts in the field in close collaboration with the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) and its task force “Allergy and Its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) ”.16-28 (keynote information in table 1). A compendium answering 150 frequently encountered questions regarding COVID-19 and allergic diseases has been recently published by experts in their respective area.29 In addition, readers can put further questions regarding this “living ” compendium electronically to the authors and their answers will be available through a new category in the journal’s webpage.30Besides, EAACI in collaboration with ARIA, has provided recommendations on operational plans and practical procedures for ensuring optimal standards in the daily clinical care of patients with allergic diseases, whilst ensuring the safety of patients and healthcare workers.23Table 1: Examples of recently published recommendations, statements and Position Papers of the EAACI