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Viruses ; 13(2)2021 02 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1060774


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), comprises mild courses of disease as well as progression to severe disease, characterised by lung and other organ failure. The immune system is considered to play a crucial role for the pathogenesis of COVID-19, although especially the contribution of innate-like T cells remains poorly understood. Here, we analysed the phenotype and function of mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, innate-like T cells with potent antimicrobial effector function, in patients with mild and severe COVID-19 by multicolour flow cytometry. Our data indicate that MAIT cells are highly activated in patients with COVID-19, irrespective of the course of disease, and express high levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-17A and TNFα ex vivo. Of note, expression of the activation marker HLA-DR positively correlated with SAPS II score, a measure of disease severity. Upon MAIT cell-specific in vitro stimulation, MAIT cells however failed to upregulate expression of the cytokines IL-17A and TNFα, as well as cytolytic proteins, that is, granzyme B and perforin. Thus, our data point towards an altered cytokine expression profile alongside an impaired antibacterial and antiviral function of MAIT cells in COVID-19 and thereby contribute to the understanding of COVID-19 immunopathogenesis.

COVID-19/immunology , Lymphocyte Activation , Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells/immunology , Adaptive Immunity , COVID-19/physiopathology , Cytokines/metabolism , Female , Granzymes/metabolism , HLA-DR Antigens , Humans , Interleukin-17/metabolism , Killer Cells, Natural/immunology , Male , Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells/metabolism , Severity of Illness Index , T-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/metabolism