Michael Peluso, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco
Steven Deeks, MD, Professor, Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco
Tim Henrich, MD, Associate Professor, Division of Experimental Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco
To support the ongoing Long-term Impact of Infection with Novel Coronavirus (LIINC) cohort study, so that it can serve as a clinical sample and data core for the LongCovid Research Consortium (LCRC) and other Long COVID research teams committed to open science. The philosophy is that specimens should be shared widely, with minimal barriers, to support research teams performing cutting-edge Long COVID science. In addition, LIINC supports the ability of multiple groups to perform complementary measurements on the same highly characterized study participants, so that the relationships between multiple biological processes can be better understood.
Support of LIINC includes:
- Recruitment of participants with and without Long COVID
- Continuation of biospecimen collection and cryopreservation including peripheral blood mononuclear cells, plasma, and serum, as well as other biospecimens needed to support the implementation of specific projects (saliva, stool, etc.)
- Collection and distribution of fresh specimens if needed by open-science collaborators
- Further development of the LIINC PASC Tissue Cohort (PTC) which uses established infrastructure to collect fresh or cryopreserved gut and lymph node tissue from people with and without Long COVID
- Continuation of detailed clinical assessment using LIINC study instruments (and other instruments as needed) including demographics, pre-COVID baseline health and medical comorbidities, acute COVID-19 disease course, post-acute disease course, persistence symptoms including presence/absence and duration
The Long-term Impact of Infection with Novel Coronavirus (LIINC) study is a prospective observational cohort study performing detailed clinical phenotyping with biospecimen collection in individuals with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. LIINC was designed from its inception to study how acute SARS-CoV-2 infection might impact long-term health. The study opened in April 2020, before reports of Long COVID began emerging on social media. LIINC has since enrolled over 600 individuals during the ancestral, Delta, and early Omicron waves, most of whom have been followed prospectively over months to years. Indeed, LIINC was the first rigorous, prospective study in the U.S. and perhaps globally focused on studying the biology of what became known as Long COVID.
A major strength of the cohort is that all participants complete the same measurements, regardless of whether they are experiencing Long COVID, which improves the validity of the measurements and comparisons with those who fully recovered. The LIINC team has also banked thousands of biospecimens prior to the availability of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and treatments, the emergence of new variants, and the rising frequency of re-infections.
LIINC has already shared over 20,000 biospecimens across dozens of research collaborations focused on post-COVID conditions. LIINC samples and clinical data are currently being used to evaluate multiple mechanisms of Long COVID: SARS-CoV-2 viral and antigen persistence, aberrant humoral and cellular immunity, inflammation, genetics, autoimmunity, microvascular dysfunction, microbial translocation, and the contributions of other chronic viral infections (e.g., EBV, CMV, HIV). Ongoing support of LIINC is allowing this biospecimen collection and sharing to continue over the next 2 years, facilitating yet more collaborative research via the LCRC and other collaborators that should delineate key Long COVID biomarkers and therapeutic candidates.