Interferon-α2 Auto-antibodies in Convalescent Plasma Therapy for COVID-19

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Purpose: To study the effect of interferon-α2 auto-antibodies (IFN-α2 Abs) on clinical and virological outcomes in critically ill COVID-19 patients and the risk of IFN-α2 Abs transfer during convalescent plasma treatment. Methods: Sera from healthy controls, cases of COVID-19, and other respiratory illness were tested for IFN-α2 Abs by ELISA and a pseudo virus–based neutralization assay. The effects of disease severity, sex, and age on the risk of having neutralizing IFN-α2 Abs were determined. Longitudinal analyses were performed to determine association between IFN-α2 Abs and survival and viral load and whether serum IFN-α2 Abs appeared after convalescent plasma transfusion. Results: IFN-α2 neutralizing sera were found only in COVID-19 patients, with proportions increasing with disease severity and age. In the acute stage of COVID-19, all sera from patients with ELISA-detected IFN-α2 Abs (13/164, 7.9%) neutralized levels of IFN-α2 exceeding physiological concentrations found in human plasma and this was associated with delayed viral clearance. Convalescent plasma donors that were anti-IFN-α2 ELISA positive (3/118, 2.5%) did not neutralize the same levels of IFN-α2. Neutralizing serum IFN-α2 Abs were associated with delayed viral clearance from the respiratory tract. Conclusions: IFN-α2 Abs were detected by ELISA and neutralization assay in COVID-19 patients, but not in ICU patients with other respiratory illnesses. The presence of neutralizing IFN-α2 Abs in critically ill COVID-19 is associated with delayed viral clearance. IFN-α2 Abs in COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors were not neutralizing in the conditions tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-239
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank D. Van Duijn, P.M. Ormskerk, and A.M. Glasbergen-van Beijeren for their dedicated role in the management of the CIUM observational study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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