COVID-19, which has killed 1.7 million people worldwide, does not follow a uniform path.
Many infected patients remain asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Others, especially those with comorbidities, can develop severe clinical disease with atypical pneumonia and multiple system organ failure.
Since the first cases were reported in December 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has surged into a pandemic, with cases and deaths still mounting. Ongoing observational clinical research has become a priority to better understand how this previously unknown virus acts, and findings from this research can better inform treatment and vaccine design.
From the blood samples, researchers were able to separate specific immune cell subsets and analyze cell surface markers. From this complex information, immunologists can analyze how each individual’s immune system is responding during infection and during convalescence. Some of these results can reveal whether immune cells have become activated and exhausted by the infection. Exhausted immune cells may increase susceptibility to a secondary infection or hamper development of protective immunity to COVID-19.
In addition, the researchers were able to analyze changes over time, in two ways. The first was observing changes in surface markers over time, defined as days since the onset of symptoms for non-hospitalized samples. The second was directly comparing the frequencies of these markers between the first and second clinic visits for non-hospitalized patients who had blood samples collected at two sequential timepoints.
“Sustained cellular immune dysregulation in individuals recovering from COVID-19 infection,” published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Release date: 29 December 2020
Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham