Introduction: COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-2019) is an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). Immune dysregulation causes inflammation and massive production of inflammatory mediators that worsen the patients' status. Here, regulatory immune cells may ameliorate inflammation and improve the severity of the disease.
Materials and methods: A total of 76 participants were enrolled in this study and divided into 3 groups as follows: patients with moderate/severe COVID-19 (n = 25), patients with critical COVID-19 (n = 26), and healthy controls (n = 25). After blood collection, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated and stained by FITC-conjugated anti-CD4 monoclonal antibodies (mABs), PE-conjugated anti-HLA-G mABs, PerCPCy5.5-conjugated anti-CD14 mABs, and APC-conjugated anti-CD8 mABs.
Results: Critical COVID-19 patients had a significantly lower frequency of CD4+ HLA-G+ T lymphocytes compared with moderate/severe COVID-19 patients (p value < 0.001; SMD, -1.27; 95% CI [-1.86, -0.66]) and healthy controls (p value < 0.05; SMD, -0.69; 95% CI [-1.25, -0.12]). Critical COVID-19 patients had a significantly lower frequency of CD14+ HLA-G+ monocytes compared with moderate/severe COVID-19 patients (p value < 0.001; SMD, -2.09; 95% CI [-2.77, -1.41]) and healthy controls (p value < 0.05; SMD, -0.83; 95% CI [-1.40, -0.25]). However, there was no difference between the groups regarding the frequency of CD8+ HLA-G+ T lymphocytes.
Conclusion: The increased amount of immunomodulatory HLA-G+ cells may reduce the severity of the disease in moderate/severe COVID-19 patients compared with critical COVID-19 patients.
Keywords: COVID-19; HLA-G(+) T cells; HLA-G(+) monocytes; SARS-CoV-2.
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