Age is a significant risk factor for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity due to immunosenescence and certain age-dependent medical conditions (e.g., obesity, cardiovascular disorder, and chronic respiratory disease). However, despite the well-known influence of age on autoantibody biology in health and disease, its impact on the risk of developing severe COVID-19 remains poorly explored. Here, we performed a cross-sectional study of autoantibodies directed against 58 targets associated with autoimmune diseases in 159 individuals with different COVID-19 severity (71 mild, 61 moderate, and 27 with severe symptoms) and 73 healthy controls. We found that the natural production of autoantibodies increases with age and is exacerbated by SARS-CoV-2 infection, mostly in severe COVID-19 patients. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that severe COVID-19 patients have a significant age-associated increase of autoantibody levels against 16 targets (e.g., amyloid β peptide, β catenin, cardiolipin, claudin, enteric nerve, fibulin, insulin receptor a, and platelet glycoprotein). Principal component analysis with spectrum decomposition and hierarchical clustering analysis based on these autoantibodies indicated an age-dependent stratification of severe COVID-19 patients. Random forest analysis ranked autoantibodies targeting cardiolipin, claudin, and platelet glycoprotein as the three most crucial autoantibodies for the stratification of severe COVID-19 patients ≥50 years of age. Follow-up analysis using binomial logistic regression found that anti-cardiolipin and anti-platelet glycoprotein autoantibodies significantly increased the likelihood of developing a severe COVID-19 phenotype with aging. These findings provide key insights to explain why aging increases the chance of developing more severe COVID-19 phenotypes.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)
DFG Research Classification Scheme
- 204-05 Immunology
- 205-18 Rheumatology
Coronavirus related work
- Research on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19