Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has rapidly spread worldwide, threatening the health and lives of many people. Unfortunately, information regarding the immunological characteristics of COVID-19 patients remains limited. Herein, we collected blood samples from 18 healthy donors (HDs) and 38 COVID-19 patients to analyse changes in the adaptive immune cell populations and their phenotypes. We observed that the lymphocyte percentage moderately decreased, CD4 and CD8 T cell percentage among lymphocytes were similar, and B cell percentage was increased in COVID-19 patients in comparison to that in HDs. T cells, especially CD8 T cells, showed an enhanced expression of late activation marker CD25 and exhaustion marker PD-1. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2 infection increased the percentage of T follicular helper- and germinal centre B-like cells in the blood. The parameters in COVID-19 patients remained unchanged across various age groups. Therefore, we demonstrated that the T and B cells are activated naturally and are functional during SARS-CoV-2 infection. These data provide evidence that the adaptive immunity in most patients could be primed to induce a significant immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection upon receiving standard medical care.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; adaptive immunity; lymphocyte.
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.