Research ArticleCORONAVIRUS

Clonal expansion and activation of tissue-resident memory-like TH17 cells expressing GM-CSF in the lungs of patients with severe COVID-19

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Science Immunology  23 Feb 2021:
Vol. 6, Issue 56, eabf6692
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abf6692

TH17 cells in severe COVID-19

Generation of T helper 17 (TH17) cells has been associated with immunopathogenesis in multiple autoimmune diseases. Using integrated single-cell transcriptome and TCR repertoire profiling, Zhao et al. showed that a population of TH17 cells with features of tissue-resident memory T cells was clonally expanded in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid collected from the lungs of patients with severe COVID-19, but not in samples from patients with bacterial pneumonia. Lung tissue–resident memory-like TH17 cells were the primary immune cell type in BAL expressing the cytokine GM-CSF, which was also elevated in serum from a cohort of patients with severe COVID-19 compared with those with moderate disease. These results provide insight into specific T cell responses associated with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and identify a potential cellular target of GM-CSF–neutralizing therapies.

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