The Innate Immune System: Fighting on the Front Lines or Fanning the Flames of COVID-19?

Cell Host Microbe. 2020 Jun 10;27(6):863-869. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.05.009. Epub 2020 May 20.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has had devastating global impacts and will continue to have dramatic effects on public health for years to come. A better understanding of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 will be critical for the application and development of therapeutics. The degree to which the innate immune response confers protection or induces pathogenesis through a dysregulated immune response remains unclear. In this review, we discuss what is known about the role of the innate immune system during SARS-CoV-2 infection, suggest directions for future studies, and evaluate proposed COVID-19 immunomodulating therapeutics.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; complement; cytokines; innate immune response; myeloid cells; natural killer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology


  • Cytokines
  • Complement System Proteins