Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has resulted in the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite several single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) studies, conclusions cannot be reached owing to the small number of available samples and the differences in technology and tissue types used in the studies. To better understand the cellular landscape and disease severity in COVID-19, we performed a meta-analysis of publicly available single-cell RNA-seq data from peripheral blood and lung samples of COVID-19 patients with varying degrees of severity. Patients with severe disease showed increased numbers of M1 macrophages in lung tissue, while the number of M2 macrophages was depleted. Cellular profiling of the peripheral blood showed a marked increase of CD14+, CD16+ monocytes and a concomitant depletion of overall B cells and CD4+, CD8+ T cells in severe patients when compared with moderate patients. Our analysis indicates the presence of faulty innate-to-adaptive switching, marked by a prolonged innate immune response and a dysregulated adaptive immune response in severe COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, we identified cell types with a transcriptome signature that can be used as a prognostic biomarker for disease state prediction and the effective therapeutic management of COVID-19 patients.
Keywords: COVID-19 patients; Immune cell landscape; Meta-analysis; Phenotypic switching; Single-cell RNA-Seq.
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