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Journal Articles Journal of Infectious Diseases Year : 2020

A Granulocytic Signature Identifies COVID-19 and Its Severity

Joana Vitte


Background An unbiased approach to SARS-CoV-2–induced immune dysregulation has not been undertaken so far. We aimed to identify previously unreported immune markers able to discriminate COVID-19 patients from healthy controls and to predict mild and severe disease. Methods An observational, prospective, multicentric study was conducted in patients with confirmed mild/moderate (n = 7) and severe (n = 19) COVID-19. Immunophenotyping of whole-blood leukocytes was performed in patients upon hospital ward or intensive care unit admission and in healthy controls (n = 25). Clinically relevant associations were identified through unsupervised analysis. Results Granulocytic (neutrophil, eosinophil, and basophil) markers were enriched during COVID-19 and discriminated between patients with mild and severe disease. Increased counts of CD15+CD16+ neutrophils, decreased granulocytic expression of integrin CD11b, and Th2-related CRTH2 downregulation in eosinophils and basophils established a COVID-19 signature. Severity was associated with emergence of PD-L1 checkpoint expression in basophils and eosinophils. This granulocytic signature was accompanied by monocyte and lymphocyte immunoparalysis. Correlation with validated clinical scores supported pathophysiological relevance. Conclusions Phenotypic markers of circulating granulocytes are strong discriminators between infected and uninfected individuals as well as between severity stages. COVID-19 alters the frequency and functional phenotypes of granulocyte subsets with emergence of CRTH2 as a disease biomarker.

Dates and versions

hal-03150816 , version 1 (24-02-2021)



Joana Vitte, Aïssatou Bailo Diallo, Asma Boumaza, Alexandre Lopez, Moïse Michel, et al.. A Granulocytic Signature Identifies COVID-19 and Its Severity. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2020, 222 (12), pp.1985-1996. ⟨10.1093/infdis/jiaa591⟩. ⟨hal-03150816⟩
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