COVID-19 is a complex pathological condition caused by infection with SARS-CoV. Different features have been observed in samples with a severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, one of these is the progressive increase of immune-mediated inflammation. Indeed, several reports have described abnormally increased levels of cytokines in plasma from samples infected by SARS-CoV-2, that has been defined “cytokine storm,” similarly to what described in bacterial sepsis or after CAR-T cell therapy. We have deeply investigated by flow cytometry the immune system and cells producing cytokines in samples affected by SARVS-CoV-2 in 21 samples and 13 controls. Sampes show an increased percentage of activated, exhausted T lymphocytes. B cell compartment showed even greater modifications, with decreased naïve and memory cells. Monocytes showed relevant signs of functional exhaustion, while neutrophils expressed more markers linked to degranulation. We found that in vitro stimulation caused a relevant production of TNF-α, IFN-γ and IL–2, as well as a significant skewing towards the Th17 phenotype.
- Present the Cytokine Storm consequences in SARS-CoV-2 affected individuals on the key features and functionality of the immune cells during SARS-CoV-2 infection
- Outline the alterations of the T lymphocytes compartment and their impact on the progression of disease
- Discover additional novel strategies to treat patients infected by SARS-CoV-2