The medical, public health, and scientific communities are grappling with monumental imperatives to contain COVID-19, develop effective vaccines, identify efficacious treatments for the infection and its complications, and find biomarkers that detect patients at risk of severe disease. The focus of this communication is on a potential biomarker, short telomere length (TL), that might serve to identify patients more likely to die from the SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of age. The common thread linking these patients is lymphopenia, which largely reflects a decline in the numbers of CD4/CD8 T cells but not B cells. These findings are consistent with data that lymphocyte TL dynamics impose a limit on T-cell proliferation. They suggest that T-cell lymphopoiesis might stall in individuals with short TL who are infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Keywords: COVID-19; T cells; Telomeres; lymphopenia.
© 2020 The Authors. The FASEB Journal published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.