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Analysis of adaptive immune cell populations and phenotypes in the patients infected by SARS-CoV-2

By Xiaofeng Yang, Tongxin Dai, Xiaobo Zhou, Hongbo Qian, Rui Guo, Lei Lei, Xingzhe Zhang, Dan Zhang, Lin Shi, Yanbin Cheng, Jinsong Hu, Yaling Guo, Baojun Zhang

Posted 27 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.23.20040675

Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, has rapidly spread to most of countries in the world, threatening the health and lives of many people. Unfortunately, information regarding the immunological characteristics in COVID-19 patients remains limited. Here we collected the blood samples from 18 healthy donors (HD) and 38 COVID-19 patients to analyze changes in the adaptive immune cell populations and phenotypes. In comparison to HD, the lymphocyte percentage was slightly decreased, the percentages of CD4 and CD8 T cells in lymphocytes are similar, whereas B cell percentage increased in COVID-19 patients. T cells, especially CD8 T cells, showed an enhanced expression of late activation marker CD25 and exhaustion marker PD-1. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2 induced an increased percentage of T follicular helpher (Tfh)- and germinal center B-like (GCB-like) cells in the blood. However, the parameters in COVD-19 patients remained unchanged across various age groups. Therefore, we demonstrated that the T and B cells can be activated normally and exhibit functional features. These data provide a clue that the adaptive immunity in most people could be primed to induce a significant immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection upon receiving standard medical care.

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