Organ-specific immunity: A tissue analysis framework for investigating local immune responses to SARS-CoV-2.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Cell Rep


Humans; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome; Inflammation; Immunity; COVID-19; CP: Immunology; CP: Microbiology; SARS-CoV-2; biomarker; dendritic cells; digital pathology; local immunity; macrophages; mucosal lymphoid tissues; post-mortem; tissue injury.; washington; swedish; isb; covid-19


Local immune activation at mucosal surfaces, mediated by mucosal lymphoid tissues, is vital for effective immune responses against pathogens. While pathogens like severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can spread to multiple organs, patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) primarily experience inflammation and damage in their lungs. To investigate this apparent organ-specific immune response, we develop an analytical framework that recognizes the significance of mucosal lymphoid tissues. This framework combines histology, immunofluorescence, spatial transcript profiling, and mathematical modeling to identify cellular and gene expression differences between the lymphoid tissues of the lung and the gut and predict the determinants of those differences. Our findings indicate that mucosal lymphoid tissues are pivotal in organ-specific immune response to SARS-CoV-2, mediating local inflammation and tissue damage and contributing to immune dysfunction. The framework developed here has potential utility in the study of long COVID and may streamline biomarker discovery and treatment design for diseases with differential pathologies at the organ level.


Infectious Diseases


Pathology & Laboratory Medicine