Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), driven by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was declared a global pandemic in March 2020. Pathogenic T cells and inflammatory monocytes are regarded as the central drivers of the cytokine storm associated with the severity of COVID-19. In this study, we explored the characteristic peripheral cellular profiles of patients with COVID-19 in both acute and convalescent phases by single-cell mass cytometry (CyTOF). Using a combination of algorithm-guided data analyses, we identified peripheral immune cell subsets in COVID-19 and revealed CD4+ T-cell depletion, T-cell differentiation, plasma cell expansion, and the reduced antigen presentation capacity of innate immunity. Notably, COVID-19 induces a dysregulation in the balance of monocyte populations by the expansion of the monocyte subsets. Collectively, our results represent a high-dimensional, single-cell profile of the peripheral immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Keywords: COVID-19; CyTOF; SARS-CoV-2; acute phase; convalescent phase; peripheral blood mononuclear cell.