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Complement and COVID-19: Three years on, what we know, what we don't know, and what we ought to know

Zelek, Wioleta M. and Harrison, Richard A. 2023. Complement and COVID-19: Three years on, what we know, what we don't know, and what we ought to know. Immunobiology 228 (3) , 152393. 10.1016/j.imbio.2023.152393

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The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus was identified in China in 2019 as the causative agent of COVID-19, and quickly spread throughout the world, causing over 7 million deaths, of which 2 million occurred prior to the introduction of the first vaccine. In the following discussion, while recognising that complement is just one of many players in COVID-19, we focus on the relationship between complement and COVID-19 disease, with limited digression into directly-related areas such as the relationship between complement, kinin release, and coagulation. Prior to the 2019 COVID-19 outbreak, an important role for complement in coronavirus diseases had been established. Subsequently, multiple investigations of patients with COVID-19 confirmed that complement dysregulation is likely to be a major driver of disease pathology, in some, if not all, patients. These data fuelled evaluation of many complement-directed therapeutic agents in small patient cohorts, with claims of significant beneficial effect. As yet, these early results have not been reflected in larger clinical trials, posing questions such as who to treat, appropriate time to treat, duration of treatment, and optimal target for treatment. While significant control of the pandemic has been achieved through a global scientific and medical effort to comprehend the etiology of the disease, through extensive SARS-CoV-2 testing and quarantine measures, through vaccine development, and through improved therapy, possibly aided by attenuation of the dominant strains, it is not yet over. In this review, we summarise complement-relevant literature, emphasise its main conclusions, and formulate a hypothesis for complement involvement in COVID-19. Based on this we make suggestions as to how any future outbreak might be better managed in order to minimise impact on patients.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0171-2985
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 8 May 2023
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2023 12:49

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