Patients on hemodialysis show dysregulated immunity, basal hyperinflammation and a marked vulnerability to COVID-19. We evaluated the immune profile in COVID-19 hemodialysis patients and the changes associated with clinical deterioration after the hemodialysis session. Recruited patients included eight hemodialysis subjects with active, PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, five uninfected hemodialysis patients and five healthy controls. In SARS-CoV-2-infected hemodialysis patients TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-8 were particularly increased. Lymphopenia was mostly due to reduction in CD4+ T, B and central memory CD8+ T cells. There was a predominance of classical and intermediate monocytes with reduced HLA-DR expression and enhanced production of pro-inflammatory molecules. Immune parameters were analysed pre- and post-hemodialysis in three patients with COVID-19 symptoms worsening after the hemodialysis session. There was a higher than 2.5-fold increase in GM-CSF, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IL-17A and IL-21 in serum, and augmentation of monocytes-derived TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-8 and CXCL10 (p < 0.05). In conclusion, COVID-19 in hemodialysis patients associates with alteration of lymphocyte subsets, increasing of pro-inflammatory cytokines and monocyte activation. The observed worsening during the hemodialysis session in some patients was accompanied by augmentation of particular inflammatory cytokines, which might suggest biomarkers and therapeutic targets to prevent or mitigate the hemodialysis-related deterioration during SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2 infection; hemodialysis; immune dysregulation.