Spatiotemporal analysis of SARS-CoV-2 infection reveals an expansive wave of monocyte-derived macrophages associated with vascular damage and virus clearance in hamster lungs : [Preprint]
Factors of the innate immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in the lungs are pivotal for the ability of the host to deal with the infection. In humans, excessive macrophage infiltration is associated with disease severity. Using 3D spatiotemporal analysis of optically cleared hamster lung slices in combination with virological, immunohistochemical and RNA sequence analyses, we visualized the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through the lungs and the rapid anti-viral response in infected lung epithelial cells, followed by a wave of monocyte-derived macrophage (MDM) infiltration and virus elimination from the tissue. These SARS-CoV-2 induced innate immune processes are closely related to the onset of necrotizing inflammatory and consecutive remodelling responses in the lungs, which manifests as extensive cell death, vascular damage, thrombosis, and cell proliferation. Here we show that MDM are directly linked to virus clearance, and appear in connection with tissue injury and blood vessel damage. Rapid initiation of prothrombotic factor upregulation, tissue repair and alveolar cell proliferation results in tissue remodelling, which is followed by fibrosis development despite a decrease in inflammatory and anti-viral activities. Thus, although the hamsters are able to resolve the infection following the MDM influx and repair lung tissue integrity, longer-term alterations of the lung tissues arise as a result of concurrent tissue damage and regeneration processes.