Pathogenesis of COVID-19-induced ARDS: Implications for an ageing population

Manuel A. Torres Acosta, Benjamin D. Singer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has elicited a swift response by the scientific community to elucidate the pathogenesis of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2)-induced lung injury and develop effective therapeutics. Clinical data indicate that severe COVID-19 most commonly manifests as viral pneumonia-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a clinical entity mechanistically understood best in the context of influenza A virus-induced pneumonia. Similar to influenza, advanced age has emerged as the leading host risk factor for developing severe COVID-19. In this review we connect the current understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 replication cycle and host response to the clinical presentation of COVID-19, borrowing concepts from influenza A virus-induced ARDS pathogenesis and discussing how these ideas inform our evolving understanding of COVID-19-induced ARDS. We also consider important differences between COVID-19 and influenza, mainly the protean clinical presentation and associated lymphopenia of COVID-19, the contrasting role of interferon-γ in mediating the host immune response to these viruses, and the tropism for vascular endothelial cells of SARS-CoV-2, commenting on the potential limitations of influenza as a model for COVID-19. Finally, we explore hallmarks of ageing that could explain the association between advanced age and susceptibility to severe COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2002049
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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