A collection of articles related to coronaviruses that have been authored by researchers at Temple University.

Recent Submissions

  • Where Did SARS-CoV-2 Come From?

    Leitner, T; Kumar, S; Kumar, Sudhir|0000-0002-9918-8212 (2020-09-01)
    © The Author(s) 2020. Identifying the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the etiological agent of the current COVID-19 pandemic, may help us to avoid future epidemics of coronavirus and other zoonoses. Several theories about the zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2 have recently been proposed. Although Betacoronavirus found in Rhinolophus bats from China have been broadly implicated, their genetic dissimilarity to SARS-CoV-2 is so high that they are highly unlikely to be its direct ancestors. Thus, an intermediary host is suspected to link bat to human coronaviruses. Based on genomic CpG dinucleotide patterns in different coronaviruses from different hosts, it was suggested that SARS-CoV-2 might have evolved in a canid gastrointestinal tract prior to transmission to humans. However, similar CpG patterns are now reported in coronaviruses from other hosts, including bats themselves and pangolins. Therefore, reduced genomic CpG alone is not a highly predictive biomarker, suggesting a need for additional biomarkers to reveal intermediate hosts or tissues. The hunt for the zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2 continues.
  • Individual Hurricane Preparedness During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights for Risk Communication and Emergency Management Policies

    Botzen, W.J.W.; Mol, Jantsje M.; Robinson, Peter John; Zhang, Juan; Czajkowski, Jeffrey (2020-01-01)
    Climate change adaptation strategies should anticipate that the 2020 situation which resembles an above average hurricane season coinciding with a pandemic may occur more frequently in the future. This study draws lessons on how individual hurricane preparedness is influenced by a pandemic, which turns out to be a combination of perceptions of flood and pandemic risks that have opposite effects on preparedness behavior. We conducted three waves of surveys during 2019-2020 to monitor hurricane preparedness activities in flood-prone coastal areas in Florida, including a survey of 600 respondents in early June 2020 to obtain insights into households’ risk perceptions and preparedness for this hurricane season under COVID-19. The results show that this hurricane season is dominated by concerns over COVID-19 which influences people’s evacuation intentions. Whereas hotel costs were the main obstacle to evacuating during Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the main evacuation obstacle identified in the 2020 hurricane season is COVID-19. Our statistical analyses that investigates the factors influencing evacuation intentions consistently show that older individuals are less likely to evacuate voluntarily, because they are concerned about becoming infected by COVID-19. We discuss the implications of our findings for adaptation policies that aim to improve hurricane preparedness in situations of a pandemic, such as risk communication and emergency management policies.
  • Duolingo English Test, Revised Version July 2019

    Wagner, Elvis; 0000-0003-2332-3323 (2020-06-28)
    The Duolingo English Test (DET) is a computer adaptive test of English proficiency that is increasingly used for English-medium university admissions purposes. During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, test centers were shut down in many countries, and major tests including the TOEFL iBT and IELTS could not be administered. The DET is an “at home” test, and thus many universities began accepting DET scores as ameasure of applicants’ English proficiency. Because a revised version of the DET was launched in July, 2019, and because of the large increase in universities accepting DET scores, a critical review of the DET is warranted. The current review lauds the accessibility of the test (e.g., it is an inexpensive “at home” test that can be taken anywhere, in less than an hour, with scores returned in 48 hours). However, the test has multiple shortcomings: the test tasks have little in common with the types of language tasks university students engage in; the test does not assess test takers’ academic language ability, discourse level competence, or interactional competence; it is susceptible to cheating and test preparation; and it has a potential for negative washback on learners and learning systems. In addition, there is a lack of independent research validating the use of DET scores for admissions. Given these shortcomings, the use of DET scores cannot be recommended for university admissions purposes.
  • Imperfect storm: is interleukin-33 the Achilles heel of COVID-19?

    Temple Autoimmunity Center (Temple University) (2020-10-01)
    The unique cytokine signature of COVID-19 might provide clues to disease mechanisms and possible future therapies. Here, we propose a pathogenic model in which the alarmin cytokine, interleukin (IL)-33, is a key player in driving all stages of COVID-19 disease (ie, asymptomatic, mild–moderate, severe–critical, and chronic–fibrotic). In susceptible individuals, IL-33 release by damaged lower respiratory cells might induce dysregulated GATA-binding factor 3-expressing regulatory T cells, thereby breaking immune tolerance and eliciting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2-induced autoinflammatory lung disease. Such disease might be initially sustained by IL-33-differentiated type-2 innate lymphoid cells and locally expanded γδ T cells. In severe COVID-19 cases, the IL-33–ST2 axis might act to expand the number of pathogenic granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor-expressing T cells, dampen antiviral interferon responses, elicit hyperinflammation, and favour thromboses. In patients who survive severe COVID-19, IL-33 might drive pulmonary fibrosis by inducing myofibroblasts and epithelial–mesenchymal transition. We discuss the therapeutic implications of these hypothetical pathways, including use of therapies that target IL-33 (eg, anti-ST2), T helper 17-like γδ T cells, immune cell homing, and cytokine balance.
  • Approaching Inflammation Paradoxes—Proinflammatory Cytokine Blockages Induce Inflammatory Regulators

    Center for Cardiovascular Research (Temple University); Center for Inflammation, Translational & Clinical Lung Research (Temple University); Center for Metabolic Disease Research (Temple University); Center for Cardiovascular Research (Temple University); Center for Thrombosis Research (Temple University) (2020-10-19)
    The mechanisms that underlie various inflammation paradoxes, metabolically healthy obesity, and increased inflammations after inflammatory cytokine blockades and deficiencies remain poorly determined. We performed an extensive –omics database mining, determined the expressions of 1367 innate immune regulators in 18 microarrays after deficiencies of 15 proinflammatory cytokines/regulators and eight microarray datasets of patients receiving Mab therapies, and made a set of significant findings: 1) proinflammatory cytokines/regulators suppress the expressions of innate immune regulators; 2) upregulations of innate immune regulators in the deficiencies of IFNγ/IFNγR1, IL-17A, STAT3 and miR155 are more than that after deficiencies of TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-18, STAT1, NF-kB, and miR221; 3) IFNγ, IFNγR and IL-17RA inhibit 10, 59 and 39 proinflammatory cytokine/regulator pathways, respectively; in contrast, TNFα, IL-6 and IL-18 each inhibits only four to five pathways; 4) The IFNγ-promoted and -suppressed innate immune regulators have four shared pathways; the IFNγR1-promoted and -suppressed innate immune regulators have 11 shared pathways; and the miR155-promoted and -suppressed innate immune regulators have 13 shared pathways, suggesting negative-feedback mechanisms in their conserved regulatory pathways for innate immune regulators; 5) Deficiencies of proinflammatory cytokine/regulator-suppressed, promoted programs share signaling pathways and increase the likelihood of developing 11 diseases including cardiovascular disease; 6) There are the shared innate immune regulators and pathways between deficiency of TNFα in mice and anti-TNF therapy in clinical patients; 7) Mechanistically, up-regulated reactive oxygen species regulators such as myeloperoxidase caused by suppression of proinflammatory cytokines/regulators can drive the upregulation of suppressed innate immune regulators. Our findings have provided novel insights on various inflammation paradoxes and proinflammatory cytokines regulation of innate immune regulators; and may re-shape new therapeutic strategies for cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases.
  • Extended Reality Technologies in Nutrition Education and Behavior: Comprehensive Scoping Review and Future Directions

    Center for Obesity Research and Education (Temple University) (2020-09-22)
    The use of Extended Reality (XR) (i.e. Virtual and Augmented Reality) for nutrition education and behavior change has not been comprehensively reviewed. This paper presents findings from a scoping review of current published research. Articles (n = 92) were extracted from PubMed and Scopus using a structured search strategy and selection approach. Pertinent study information was extracted using a standardized data collection form. Each article was independently reviewed and coded by two members of the research team, who then met to resolve any coding discrepancies. There is an increasing trend in publication in this area, mostly regarding Virtual Reality. Most studies used developmental testing in a lab setting, employed descriptive or observational methods, and focused on momentary behavior change like food selection rather than education. The growth and diversity of XR studies suggest the potential of this approach. There is a need and opportunity for more XR technology focused on children and other foundational theoretical determinants of behavior change to be addressed within nutrition education. Our findings suggest that XR technology is a burgeoning approach in the field of nutrition, but important gaps remain, including inadequate methodological rigor, community application, and assessment of the impact on dietary behaviors.
  • Physical Activity Levels and Related Energy Expenditure during COVID-19 Quarantine among the Sicilian Active Population: A Cross-Sectional Online Survey Study

    Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2020-05-26)
    Background: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Italian government has adopted containment measures to control the virus’s spread, including limitations to the practice of physical activity (PA). The aim of this study was to estimate the levels of PA, expressed as energy expenditure (MET–minute/week), among the physically active Sicilian population before and during the last seven days of the COVID-19 quarantine. Furthermore, the relation between this parameter and specific demographic and anthropometric variables was analyzed. Methods: 802 Sicilian physically active participants (mean age: 32.27 ± 12.81 years; BMI: 23.44 ± 3.33 kg/m2) were included in the study and grouped based on gender, age and BMI. An adapted version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire—short form (IPAQ-SF) was administered to the participants through an online survey. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test and the Kruskal-Wallis rank-sum test were used for statistical analyses. Results: As expected, we observed a significant decrease of the total weekly energy expenditure during the COVID-19 quarantine (p < 0.001). A significant variation in the MET–min/wk in the before quarantine condition (p = 0.046) and in the difference between before and during quarantine (p = 0.009) was found for males and females. The male group decreased the PA level more than the female one. Moreover, a significant difference in the MET–min/wk was found among groups distributions of BMI (p < 0.001, during quarantine) and of age (p < 0.001, both before and during quarantine). In particular, the highest and the lowest levels of PA were reported by the young and the elderly, respectively, both before and during quarantine. Finally, the overweight group showed the lowest level of PA during quarantine. Conclusion: Based on our outcomes, we can determine that the current quarantine has negatively affected the practice of PA, with greater impacts among males and overweight subjects. In regards to different age groups, the young, young adults and adults were more affected than senior adults and the elderly.
  • Elite Athletes and COVID-19 Lockdown: Future Health Concerns for an Entire Sector

    Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2020-05-07)
    In this editorial, we focused our attention on elite athletes during the COVID-19 lockdown. A high level of physical fitness is required by elite athletes irrespective of the specific type of sport. Generally speaking, elite athletes avoid long periods of rest during and at the end of the competitive season. Normally, elite athletes stop training or reduce training volume and intensity for a period that ranges from two weeks to a maximum of four weeks.
  • COVID-19 Deaths: Are We Sure It Is Pneumonia? Please, Autopsy, Autopsy, Autopsy!

    Pomara, Cristoforo; Li Volti, Giovanni; Cappello, Francesco; 0000-0001-9288-1148 (2020-04-26)
    The current outbreak of COVID-19 severe respiratory disease, which started in Wuhan, China, is an ongoing challenge, and a major threat to public health that requires surveillance, prompt diagnosis, and research efforts to understand this emergent pathogen and to develop an effective response. Due to the scientific community’s efforts, there is an increasing body of published studies describing the virus’ biology, its transmission and diagnosis, its clinical features, its radiological findings, and the development of candidate therapeutics and vaccines. Despite the decline in postmortem examination rate, autopsy remains the gold standard to determine why and how death happens. Defining the pathophysiology of death is not only limited to forensic considerations; it may also provide useful clinical and epidemiologic insights. Selective approaches to postmortem diagnosis, such as limited postmortem sampling over full autopsy, can also be useful in the control of disease outbreaks and provide valuable knowledge for managing appropriate control measures. In this scenario, we strongly recommend performing full autopsies on patients who died with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection, particularly in the presence of several comorbidities. Only by working with a complete set of histological samples obtained through autopsy can one ascertain the exact cause(s) of death, optimize clinical management, and assist clinicians in pointing out a timely and effective treatment to reduce mortality. Death can teach us not only about the disease, it might also help with its prevention and, above all, treatment.
  • Coronavirus Outbreak in Italy: Physiological Benefits of Home-Based Exercise During Pandemic

    Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2020-05-07)
    The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has forced the hardest-hit populations, like Italians, to radically change their daily habits, starting with social distancing, strict preventive measures, and self-isolation. These precautions also apply to sport-related facilities and activities. The difficulty to practice physical activity during this dramatic moment in time adds to the risks associated with sedentary habits, due to staying all the time at home. Here, the importance and the benefits of maintaining exercise routine, even at home, are emphasized in order to avoid the consequences of inactivity.
  • Approaches to Reducing Risk of COVID-19 Infections in Prisons and Immigration Detention Centers: A Commentary

    Kelly, Kate; Soto, Nai; Wisseh, Nadi Damond; Clerget, Shaina A.; 0000-0002-5155-0518 (2020-09-18)
    Although often left out of public health efforts and policy decisions, prisons, jails, and detention centers are integral to community health. With an average of 650,000 citizens returning home from prison each year in the United States, and thousands of correctional staff members returning home every night, there are millions of touchpoints between outside communities and carceral settings. For this reason, carceral communities should be central to planning and policy making in response to the spread of the COVID-19 illness. As social workers and clinicians, we are urgently concerned that efforts to prevent COVID-19 infections in prisons are underdeveloped and inadequate in the face of a fast-spreading virus. In this commentary, we outline a set of public health, policy, and clinical recommendations based upon the existing literature to mitigate various risks to the well-being of carceral communities.
  • Targeting Molecular Mechanism of Vascular Smooth Muscle Senescence Induced by Angiotensin II, A Potential Therapy via Senolytics and Senomorphics

    Cardiovascular Research Center (Temple University) (2020-09-09)
    Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a prevalent issue in the global aging population. Premature vascular aging such as elevated arterial stiffness appears to be a major risk factor for CVD. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are one of the essential parts of arterial pathology and prone to stress-induced senescence. The pervasiveness of senescent VSMCs in the vasculature increases with age and can be further expedited by various stressing events such as oxidative stress, mitochondria dysfunction, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and chronic inflammation. Angiotensin II (AngII) can induce many of these responses in VSMCs and is thus considered a key regulator of VSMC senescence associated with CVD. Understanding the precise mechanisms and consequences of senescent cell accumulation may uncover a new generation of therapies including senolytic and senomorphic compounds against CVD. Accordingly, in this review article, we discuss potential molecular mechanisms of VSMC senescence such as those induced by AngII and the therapeutic manipulations of senescence to control age-related CVD and associated conditions such as by senolytic.
  • Recombination and purifying selection preserves covariant movements of mosaic SARS-CoV-2 protein S

    Tagliamonte, Massimiliano S.; Abid, Nabil; Ostrov, David A.; Chillemi, Giovanni; Pond, Sergei; Salemi, Marco; Mavian, Carla; 0000-0003-4817-4029 (2020-06-10)
    In depth evolutionary and structural analyses of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) isolated from bats, pangolins, and humans are necessary to assess the role of natural selection and recombination in the emergence of the current pandemic strain. The SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein unique features have been associated with efficient viral spread in the human population. Phylogeny-based and genetic algorithm methods clearly show that recombination events between viral progenitors infecting animal hosts led to a mosaic structure in the S gene. We identified recombination coldspots in the S glycoprotein and strong purifying selection. Moreover, although there is little evidence of diversifying positive selection during host-switching, structural analysis suggests that some of the residues emerged along the ancestral lineage of current pandemic strains may contribute to enhanced ability to infect human cells. Interestingly, recombination did not affect the long-range covariant movements of SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein monomer in pre-fusion conformation but, on the contrary, could contribute to the observed overall viral efficiency. Our dynamic simulations revealed that the movements between the host cell receptor binding domain (RBD) and the novel furin-like cleavage site are correlated. We identified threonine 333 (under purifying selection), at the beginning of the RBD, as the hinge of the opening/closing mechanism of the SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein monomer functional to hACE2 binding. Our findings support a scenario where ancestral recombination and fixation of amino acid residues in the RBD of the S glycoprotein generated a virus with unique features, capable of extremely efficient infection of the human host.
  • Challenges Experienced by Older People During the Initial Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Siminoff Research Group (Temple University) (2020-09-21)
    Background and Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created unique stressors for older people to manage. Informed by the Stress Process Model and the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping, we examined the extent to which older people are adhering to physical distancing mandates and the pandemic-related experiences that older people find most challenging. Research Design and Methods: From May 4 to May 17, 2020, a web-based questionnaire focused on the COVID-19 pandemic was completed by 1,272 people (aged 64 and older) who were part of an ongoing research panel in New Jersey recruited in 2006. Frequencies for endorsement of physical distancing behaviors were tabulated, and open-ended responses to the biggest challenge of the pandemic were systematically coded and classified using content analysis. Results: More than 70% of participants reported adhering to physical distancing behaviors. Experiences appraised as most difficult by participants fell into 8 domains: Social Relationships, Activity Restrictions, Psychological, Health, Financial, Global Environment, Death, and Home Care. The most frequently appraised challenges were constraints on social interactions (42.4%) and restrictions on activity (30.9%). Discussion and Implications: In the initial weeks of the pandemic, the majority of older adults reported adhering to COVID-19 physical distancing mandates and identified a range of challenging experiences. Results highlight the factors having the greatest impact on older adults, informing quantitative modeling for testing the impact of the pandemic on health and well-being outcomes, and identifying how intervention efforts may be targeted to maximize the quality of life of older adults.
  • Smell and taste changes are early indicators of the COVID-19 pandemic and political decision effectiveness

    Pierron, Denis; Pereda-Loth, Veronica; Mantel, Marylou; Moranges, Maëlle; Bignon, Emmanuelle; Alva, Omar; Kabous, Julie; Heiske, Margit; Pacalon, Jody; David, Renaud; Dinnella, Caterina; Spinelli, Sara; Monteleone, Erminio; Farruggia, Michael C.; Cooper, Keiland W.; Sell, Elizabeth A.; Thomas-Danguin, Thierry; Bakke, Alyssa J.; Parma, Valentina; Hayes, John E.; Letellier, Thierry; Ferdenzi, Camille; Golebiowski, Jérôme; Bensafi, Moustafa; 0000-0003-0276-7072 (2020-10-14)
    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments have taken drastic measures to avoid an overflow of intensive care units. Accurate metrics of disease spread are critical for the reopening strategies. Here, we show that self-reports of smell/taste changes are more closely associated with hospital overload and are earlier markers of the spread of infection of SARS-CoV-2 than current governmental indicators. We also report a decrease in self-reports of new onset smell/taste changes as early as 5 days after lockdown enforcement. Cross-country comparisons demonstrate that countries that adopted the most stringent lockdown measures had faster declines in new reports of smell/taste changes following lockdown than a country that adopted less stringent lockdown measures. We propose that an increase in the incidence of sudden smell and taste change in the general population may be used as an indicator of COVID-19 spread in the population.
  • Mathematical Modeling to Estimate the Reproductive Number and the Outbreak Size of COVID-19: The case of India and the World

    Sinha, Durgesh; 0000-0001-7749-3710 (2020-05-04)
    Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become a global pandemic with more than 218,000 deaths in 211 different countries around the world. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the virus responsible for this deadliest disease. This paper describes a mathematical model for India, a country with the second highest population in the world with an extremely high population density of about 464 people per km2. This disease has multiphasic actions and reaction mode and our model SEIAQIm is based on six compartmental groups in the form of susceptible, exposed, infectious, asymptomatic, quarantine, and recovered immune factions. Latin Hypercube Sampling Partial Rank Correlation Coefficient method was used for the data analysis and model fitting. According to our model, India would reach its basic reproduction number R0=0.97 on May 14, 2020 with a total number of 73,800 estimated cases. Further, this study also equates the world's situation using the same model system and predicts by May 7, 2020 with a total number of 3,772,000 estimated confirmed cases. Moreover, the current mathematical model highlights the importance of social distancing as an effective method of containing spread of COVID-19.
  • Fondaparinux: Should It Be Studied in Patients with COVID-19 Disease?

    Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2020-10-01)
    We have read with interest the review article by Bikdeli et al recently published in Thrombosis and Haemostasis on the priority in planning studies on the different anticoagulants in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection.[1] The authors describe the characteristics of both the anticoagulants available today and in the future. Antiplatelets drugs have been also considered. Surprisingly, fondaparinux (FPX) has reached a lower priority research mean (4.89) than unfractionated heparin (UFH) and low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) at intermediate (7.82) or therapeutic (7.53) dosage for hospitalized ward and intensive care unit patients. We believe that properties of these drugs have been overlooked by the scientific panel of the Global COVID-19 Thrombosis Collaborative Group.
  • HLA Expression Correlates to the Risk of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor-Induced Pneumonitis

    Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2020-08-25)
    Tumor-infiltrating T cell rescue by programmed cell death receptor-1 (PD-1)/PD-1 ligand-1 (PD-L1) immune checkpoint blockade is a recommended treatment for malignant diseases, including metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (mNSCLC), malignant melanoma (MM), head and neck, kidney, and urothelial cancer. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against either PD-1 or PD-L1 are active agents for these patients; however, their use may be complicated by unpredictable immune-related adverse events (irAEs), including immune-related pneumonitis (IRP). We carried out a retrospective multi-institutional statistical analysis to investigate clinical and biological parameters correlated with IRP rate on a cohort of 256 patients who received real-world treatment with PD-1/PD-L1 blocking mAbs. An independent radiological review board detected IRP in 29 patients. We did not find statistical IRP rate correlation with gender, tumor type, specific PD-1 or PD-L1 blocking mAbs, radiation therapy, inflammatory profile, or different irAEs. A higher IRP risk was detected only in mNSCLC patients who received metronomic chemotherapy +/− bevacizumab compared with other treatments prior PD-1/PD-L1 blockade. Moreover, we detected a strong correlation among the IRP rate and germinal expression of HLA-B*35 and DRB1*11, alleles associated to autoimmune diseases. Our findings may have relevant implications in predicting the IRP rate in mNSCLC patients receiving PD-1/PD-L1 blockade and need to be validated on a larger patient series.

View more