Resolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung tissues is driven by extravascular CD163+ monocytes

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The lung-resident immune mechanisms driving resolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans remain elusive. Using mice co-engrafted with a genetically matched human immune system and fetal lung xenograft (fLX), we mapped the immunological events defining resolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung tissues. Viral infection is rapidly cleared from fLX following a peak of viral replication. Acute replication results in the emergence of cell subsets enriched in viral RNA, including extravascular inflammatory monocytes (iMO) and macrophage-like T-cells, which dissipate upon infection resolution. iMO display robust antiviral responses, are transcriptomically unique among myeloid lineages, and their emergence associates with the recruitment of circulating CD4+ monocytes. Consistently, mice depleted for human CD4+ cells but not CD3+ T-cells failed to robustly clear infectious viruses and displayed signatures of chronic infection. Our findings uncover the transient differentiation of extravascular iMO from CD4+ monocytes as a major hallmark of SARS-CoV-2 infection resolution and open avenues for unravelling viral and host adaptations defining persistently active SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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