Research ArticleCORONAVIRUS

Natural killer cell immunotypes related to COVID-19 disease severity

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Immunology  21 Aug 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 50, eabd6832
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abd6832

Activated NK cells in severe COVID-19

Natural killer (NK) cells are cytotoxic lymphocytes that provide innate immune defense against viral infections and cancer, but little is known about their involvement in the host response to COVID-19. Maucourant et al. used high-dimensional flow cytometry to characterize NK cells in patients with moderate or severe COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with fewer blood NK cells but a higher activation state in circulating NK cells. Severe COVID-19 resulted in an increase in “armed” NK cells containing high levels of cytotoxic proteins such as perforin. The adaptive NK subset was markedly expanded in a subset of severe patients. These findings lay the groundwork for future studies examining the mechanisms of NK cell activation in COVID-19 and their potential roles in host protection and immunopathology.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Immunology