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Innate Immunity Deficiency Has Been Linked to Severe COVID-19

According to a new study, a lack of innate immunity appears to play a key role in severe infections of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Innate Immunity Deficiency Has Been Linked to Severe COVID-19
Image: COVID-19 Patient | InStyleHealth

The study included 22 healthy controls (median age 49 years, 64% women), 40 mild COVID-19 patients (median age 68 years, 50% women), and 44 severe COVID-19 patients (median age 68 years, 50% women) (median age 60 years, 11 percent women). They phenotypically assessed neutrophil and monocyte subpopulations, as well as soluble activation indicators in plasma samples, using a range of lab procedures.

They also looked at antimicrobial capabilities like phagocytosis, oxidative burst, and NETosis, which is a controlled sort of neutrophil cell death.

The expression of markers such as CD11b, elastase, lipocalin-2, and calprotectin was increased in COVID-19 patients' neutrophils and monocytes, indicating that they were activated. The phenotypic profile of patients with severe illness was significantly more different, indicating increased neutrophil activation.

The altered distribution of cell subpopulations in COVID-19 patients was confirmed in subsequent tests. Immunosuppressive and immature neutrophils were found in higher numbers in those with severe illness, indicating a weakened immune response.

"These data suggest that SARS-CoV2 infection may cause an overactivation of the innate system, culminating in the emergence of aberrant subpopulations and cellular effector fatigue," the researchers wrote.

"Such dysregulation of innate responses strongly advocates for the use of systematic antibiotic and antifungal prophylaxis in severe patients and warrants further studies to assess the efficacy of neutrophil-related therapeutics like elastase inhibitors and the utility of severity-associated markers as COVID-19 prognosis tools," they added.

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