Early airway responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection are of interest since they could decide whether coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) will proceed to life-threatening pulmonary disease stages. Here I discuss endothelial-epithelial co-operative in vivo responses producing first-line, humoral innate defence opportunities in human airways. The pseudostratified epithelium of human nasal and tracheobronchial airways are prime sites of exposure and infection by SARS-CoV-2. Just beneath the epithelium runs a profuse systemic microcirculation. Its post-capillary venules respond conspicuously to mucosal challenges with autacoids, allergens and microbes, and to mere loss of epithelium. By active venular endothelial gap formation, followed by transient yielding of epithelial junctions, non-sieved plasma macromolecules move from the microcirculation to the mucosal surface. Hence, plasma-derived protein cascade systems and antimicrobial peptides would have opportunity to operate jointly on an unperturbed mucosal lining. Similarly, a plasma-derived, dynamic gel protects sites of epithelial sloughing-regeneration. Precision for this indiscriminate humoral molecular response lies in restricted location and well-regulated duration of plasma exudation. Importantly, the endothelial responsiveness of the airway microcirculation differs distinctly from the relatively non-responsive, low-pressure pulmonary microcirculation that non-specifically, almost irreversibly, leaks plasma in life-threatening COVID-19. Observations in humans of infections with rhinovirus, coronavirus 229E, and influenza A and B support a general but individually variable early occurrence of plasma exudation in human infected nasal and tracheobronchial airways. Investigations are warranted to elucidate roles of host- and drug-induced airway plasma exudation in restriction of viral infection and, specifically, whether it contributes to variable disease responses following exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
- Lungmedicin och allergi