Immunological and inflammatory profiles in mild and severe cases of COVID-19

Jin Wen Song, Chao Zhang, Xing Fan, Fan Ping Meng, Zhe Xu, Peng Xia, Wen Jing Cao, Tao Yang, Xiao Peng Dai, Si Yu Wang, Ruo Nan Xu, Tian Jun Jiang, Wen Gang Li, Da Wei Zhang, Peng Zhao, Ming Shi, Chiara Agrati, Giuseppe Ippolito, Markus Maeurer, Alimuddin ZumlaFu Sheng Wang, Ji Yuan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


COVID-19 is associated with 5.1% mortality. Although the virological, epidemiological, clinical, and management outcome features of COVID-19 patients have been defined rapidly, the inflammatory and immune profiles require definition as they influence pathogenesis and clinical expression of COVID-19. Here we show lymphopenia, selective loss of CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells and NK cells, excessive T-cell activation and high expression of T-cell inhibitory molecules are more prominent in severe cases than in those with mild disease. CD8+ T cells in patients with severe disease express high levels of cytotoxic molecules. Histochemical studies of lung tissue from one fatality show sub-anatomical distributions of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and massive infiltration of T cells and macrophages. Thus, aberrant activation and dysregulation of CD8+ T cells occur in patients with severe COVID-19 disease, an effect that might be for pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and indicate that immune-based targets for therapeutic interventions constitute a promising treatment for severe COVID-19 patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3410
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 8 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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