Research ArticleCORONAVIRUS

Immunophenotyping of COVID-19 and influenza highlights the role of type I interferons in development of severe COVID-19

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Science Immunology  10 Jul 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 49, eabd1554
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abd1554

Cytokine drivers of COVID-19

By carrying out single-cell RNA sequencing analyses on immune cells in the blood, Lee et al. have compared immune responses in patients with mild and severe COVID-19 with immune responses in severe cases of influenza. They report TNF/IL-1β–driven inflammation as defining characteristics of COVID-19 that was relatively weak in the response to influenza. By further comparing the transcriptomes of mild and severe cases of COVID-19, they found type I interferons to be key drivers of inflammation in severe COVID-19. By profiling the immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 and flu in parallel, Lee et al. have shed new light on the similarities and differences between the immune responses to these two distinct respiratory viruses.

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