Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2: The Role of the Main Components of the Innate Immune System

Inflammation. 2021 Dec;44(6):2151-2169. doi: 10.1007/s10753-021-01519-7. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


At the end of December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic began in Wuhan of China. COVID-19 affects different people with a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from asymptomatic with recovery without hospitalization up to a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The innate and adaptive immunity appears responsible for the defense against the virus and recovery from the disease. The innate immune system, as the first line of defense, is essential for the detection of virus and subsequent activation of acquired immunity. The innate immune response is carried out by sentinel cells such as monocytes/macrophages and dendritic cells and by receptors known as pattern recognition receptors (PRR). These receptors can recognize various components of the virus, which lead to intracellular signaling and subsequently the synthesis of various cytokines. These cytokines then recruit other immune cells, activate adaptive immune responses, and inhibit viral spreading. The most common receptors include Toll-like receptors, C-type lectin receptors, and RIG-I like receptors. This review describes the current knowledge about the interplay between innate immune responses and SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on the innate immune cells and the role of their receptors in viral RNA recognition, as well as their mechanisms for recognizing SARS-CoV-2.

Keywords: COVID-19; Innate immunity; Pattern recognition receptor; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dendrites / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition