PLoS One. 2022 Aug 5;17(8):e0268712. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268712. eCollection 2022.
PURPOSE: Available but insufficient evidence shows that changes may occur in the immune system following coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The present study aimed at evaluating immunological changes in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pneumonia compared with the control group.
METHOD: The present study was performed on 95 patients with COVID-19 (32 severe and 63 moderate cases) and 22 healthy controls. Relationship between immune cells, disease severity and lung involvement was assessed. Binary logistic regression and ROC curve tests were used for statistical analysis.
RESULTS: A significant decrease was observed in CD20+ cell counts of the patients. To differentiate patients from healthy individuals, the cutoff point for the CD4+ cell count was 688 /μL, sensitivity 0.96, and specificity 0.84. An increase in CD4+ cells reduces the odds of severe disease (odds ratio = 0.82, P = 0.047) and death (odds ratio = 0.74, P = 0.029). CD4+ cells play a pivotal role in the severity of lung involvement (P = 0.03). In addition to CD4+ cells, Fc gamma receptor III (FcγRIII) (CD16) also played a significant prognosis (odds ratio = 0.55, P = 0.047). In severe cases, C-reactive protein, Blood urea nitrogen, and Creatine phosphokinase levels, as well as neutrophil counts, were significantly higher than those of moderate ones whereas lymphocyte count in severe cases was lower than that of moderate ones.
CONCLUSION: The number of total T-cells and B-cells in patients with COVID-19 was lower than that of controls; however, their NK cells increased. FcγRIII and CD4+ cells are of great importance due to their association with COVID-19 prognosis.