Identifying environmental factors that influence immune response to SARS-CoV-2: systematic evidence map protocol

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About Int. 8 Apr 2022;164:107230. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107230. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Widespread environmental contamination can directly interact with human immune system functions. Environmental effects on the immune system can influence human susceptibility to respiratory infections as well as the severity of infectious diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Additionally, the efficacy of vaccines against respiratory diseases can be affected by environmental exposures through immune perturbations. Given the rapid pace of research on COVID-19 and associated risk factors, it is essential to identify and manage streams of evidence quickly and efficiently.

OBJECTIVE: We developed this systematic evidence mapping protocol to identify and organize existing human and animal literature on high-priority environmental chemical classes (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, pesticides, phthalates, quaternary ammonium compounds, and air pollutants) and their potential to influence three key outcomes: (1) susceptibility to respiratory infections, including SARS-CoV-2 (2) severity of resulting disease progression and (3) impact on vaccine efficacy. The outcome of this project will be an interactive online database that will show what evidence is currently available between unintentional exposures to certain environmental chemicals and effects on immune health, data gaps that require further research, and areas rich in data that can support further analysis.

SEARCH AND STUDY ELIGIBILITY: We will search PubMed for epidemiological or toxicological literature on selected toxic substances from each of the chemical classes and each of the three endpoints listed above.

STUDY EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS OF METHODS: For each study, two independent reviewers will perform title and abstract screening as well as full-text review for data extraction of study characteristics. Study quality will not be assessed in this evidence mapping. The main results of the systematic evidence map will be visualized using a publicly accessible and interactive database hosted on Tableau Public.

PMID:35447423 | DOI:10.1016/j.envint.2022.107230