COVID-19 severity associates with pulmonary redistribution of CD1c+ DCs and inflammatory transitional and nonclassical monocytes

J Clin Invest. 2020 Dec 1;130(12):6290-6300. doi: 10.1172/JCI140335.


SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the development of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in infected individuals, who can either exhibit mild symptoms or progress toward a life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Exacerbated inflammation and dysregulated immune responses involving T and myeloid cells occur in COVID-19 patients with severe clinical progression. However, the differential contribution of specific subsets of dendritic cells and monocytes to ARDS is still poorly understood. In addition, the role of CD8+ T cells present in the lung of COVID-19 patients and relevant for viral control has not been characterized. Here, we have studied the frequencies and activation profiles of dendritic cells and monocytes present in the blood and lung of COVID-19 patients with different clinical severity in comparison with healthy individuals. Furthermore, these subpopulations and their association with antiviral effector CD8+ T cell subsets were also characterized in lung infiltrates from critical COVID-19 patients. Our results indicate that inflammatory transitional and nonclassical monocytes and CD1c+ conventional dendritic cells preferentially migrate from blood to lungs in patients with severe COVID-19. Thus, this study increases the knowledge of specific myeloid subsets involved in the pathogenesis of COVID-19 disease and could be useful for the design of therapeutic strategies for fighting SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Keywords: COVID-19; Dendritic cells; Immunology; Monocytes; T cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD1 / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / pathology
  • Cell Movement / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / classification
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / immunology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antigens, CD1
  • CD1C protein, human
  • Glycoproteins