The role of host genetics in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 susceptibility and severity

Immunol Rev. 2020 Jul;296(1):205-219. doi: 10.1111/imr.12897. Epub 2020 Jul 13.


This article provides a review of studies evaluating the role of host (and viral) genetics (including variation in HLA genes) in the immune response to coronaviruses, as well as the clinical outcome of coronavirus-mediated disease. The initial sections focus on seasonal coronaviruses, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV. We then examine the state of the knowledge regarding genetic polymorphisms and SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. The article concludes by discussing research areas with current knowledge gaps and proposes several avenues for future scientific exploration in order to develop new insights into the immunology of SARS-CoV-2.

Keywords: COVID-19; GWAS; HLA; SARS; SARS-CoV-2; alleles; coronavirus; genes; genetic variation; genome-wide association study; immunogenetics; polymorphisms; severe acute respiratory syndrome; single nucleotide; systems biology; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology*
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / genetics
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Disease Resistance / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / immunology
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / pathogenicity
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / genetics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / genetics
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / immunology
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / pathogenicity