Objective: To compare coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) acute kidney injury (AKI) to sepsis-AKI (S-AKI). The morphology and transcriptomic and proteomic characteristics of autopsy kidneys were analyzed. Patients and Methods: Individuals 18 years of age and older who died from COVID-19 and had an autopsy performed at Mayo Clinic between April 2020 to October 2020 were included. Morphological evaluation of the kidneys of 17 individuals with COVID-19 was performed. In a subset of seven COVID-19 cases with postmortem interval of less than or equal to 20 hours, ultrastructural and molecular characteristics (targeted transcriptome and proteomics analyses of tubulointerstitium) were evaluated. Molecular characteristics were compared with archived cases of S-AKI and nonsepsis causes of AKI. Results: The spectrum of COVID-19 renal pathology included macrophage-dominant microvascular inflammation (glomerulitis and peritubular capillaritis), vascular dysfunction (peritubular capillary congestion and endothelial injury), and tubular injury with ultrastructural evidence of mitochondrial damage. Investigation of the spatial architecture using a novel imaging mass cytometry revealed enrichment of CD3+CD4+ T cells in close proximity to antigen-presenting cells, and macrophage-enriched glomerular and interstitial infiltrates, suggesting an innate and adaptive immune tissue response. Coronavirus disease 2019 AKI and S-AKI, as compared to nonseptic AKI, had an enrichment of transcriptional pathways involved in inflammation (apoptosis, autophagy, major histocompatibility complex class I and II, and type 1 T helper cell differentiation). Proteomic pathway analysis showed that COVID-19 AKI and to a lesser extent S-AKI were enriched in necroptosis and sirtuin-signaling pathways, both involved in regulatory response to inflammation. Upregulation of the ceramide-signaling pathway and downregulation of oxidative phosphorylation in COVID-19 AKI were noted. Conclusion: This data highlights the similarities between S-AKI and COVID-19 AKI and suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction may play a pivotal role in COVID-19 AKI. This data may allow the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas