Background: In December 2019, novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pneumonia (COVID-19) was reported in Wuhan and has since rapidly spread throughout China. We aimed to clarify the characteristics and clinical significance of peripheral lymphocyte subset alteration in COVID-19.
Methods: The levels of peripheral lymphocyte subsets were measured by flow cytometry in 60 hospitalized COVID-19 patients before and after treatment, and their association with clinical characteristics and treatment efficacy was analyzed.
Results: Total lymphocytes, CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, B cells, and natural killer (NK) cells decreased in COVID-19 patients, and severe cases had a lower level than mild cases. The subsets showed a significant association with inflammatory status in COVID-19, especially CD8+ T cells and CD4+/CD8+ ratio. After treatment, 37 patients (67%) showed clinical response, with an increase in CD8+ T cells and B cells. No significant change in any subset was detected in nonresponsive cases. In multivariate analysis, posttreatment decrease in CD8+ T cells and B cells and increase in CD4+/CD8+ ratio were indicated as independent predictors of poor efficacy.
Conclusions: Peripheral lymphocyte subset alteration was associated with clinical characteristics and treatment efficacy of COVID-19. CD8+ T cells tended to be an independent predictor for COVID-19 severity and treatment efficacy.
Keywords: COVID-19; lymphocyte subset; pneumonia.
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