Background: The pathogenesis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is still incompletely understood, but it seems to involve immune activation and immune dysregulation.
Objective: We examined the parameters of activation of different leukocyte subsets in COVID-19-infected patients in relation to disease severity.
Methods: We analyzed plasma levels of myeloperoxidase (a marker of neutrophil activation), soluble (s) CD25 (sCD25) and soluble T-cell immunoglobulin mucin domain-3 (sTIM-3) (markers of T-cell activation and exhaustion), and sCD14 and sCD163 (markers of monocyte/macrophage activation) in 39 COVID-19-infected patients at hospital admission and 2 additional times during the first 10 days in relation to their need for intensive care unit (ICU) treatment.
Results: Our major findings were as follows: (1) severe clinical outcome (ICU treatment) was associated with high plasma levels of sTIM-3 and myeloperoxidase, suggesting activated and potentially exhausted T cells and activated neutrophils, respectively; (2) in contrast, sCD14 and sCD163 showed no association with need for ICU treatment; and (3) levels of sCD25, sTIM-3, and myeloperoxidase were inversely correlated with degree of respiratory failure, as assessed by the ratio of Pao2 to fraction of inspired oxygen, and were positively correlated with the cardiac marker N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that neutrophil activation and, in particular, activated T cells may play an important role in the pathogenesis of COVID-19 infection, suggesting that T-cell-targeted treatment options and downregulation of neutrophil activation could be of importance in this disorder.
Keywords: COVID-19; T cell; TIM-3; neutrophil; outcome.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.