Viral loads, lymphocyte subsets and cytokines in asymptomatic, mildly and critical symptomatic patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection: a retrospective study.
Tens of million cases of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) have occurred globally. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) attacks the respiratory system, causing pneumonia and lymphopenia in infected individuals. The aim of the present study is to investigate the laboratory characteristics of the viral load, lymphocyte subset and cytokines in asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection in comparison with those in symptomatic patients with COVID-19.
From January 24, 2020, to April 11, 2020, 48 consecutive subjects were enrolled in this study. Viral loads were detected by RT-PCR from throat-swab, sputum and feces samples. Lymphocyte subset levels of CD3 + , CD4 + , and CD8 + T lymphocytes, B cells and NK cells were determined with biological microscope and flow cytometric analysis. Plasma cytokines (IL2, IL4, IL5, IL6, IL8, IL10, TNF-α, IFN-α and IFN-γ) were detected using flow cytometer. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), Chi-square or Fisher's exact test and Pearson's Correlation assay was used for all data.
Asymptomatic (AS), mild symptoms (MS) and severe or critical cases (SCS) with COVID-19 were 11 (11/48, 22.9%), 26 (54.2%, 26/48) and 11 cases (11/48, 22.9%), respectively. The mean age of AS group (47.3 years) was lower than SCS group (63.5 years) (P < 0.05). Diabetes mellitus in AS, MS and SCS patients with COVID-19 were 0, 6 and 5 cases, respectively, and there was a significant difference between AS and SCS (P < 0.05). No statistical differences were found in the viral loads of SARS-CoV-2 between AS, MS and SCS groups on admission to hospital and during hospitalization. The concentration of CD 3 + T cells (P < 0.05), CD3 + CD4 + T cells (P < 0.05), CD3 + CD8 + T cells (P < 0.01), and B cells (P < 0.05) in SCS patients was lower than in AS and MS patients, while the level of IL-5 (P < 0.05), IL-6 (P < 0.05), IL-8 (P < 0.01) and IL-10 (P < 0.01), and TNF-α (P < 0.05) was higher. The age was negatively correlated with CD3 + T cells (P < 0.05), CD3 + CD4 + T cells (P < 0.05), and positively correlated with IL-2 (P < 0.001), IL-5 (P < 0.05), IL-6 (P < 0.05) IL-8 (P < 0.05), and IL-10 (P < 0.05). The viral loads were positively correlated with IL-2 (P < 0.001), IL-5 (P < 0.05), IL-6 (P < 0.05) IL-8 (P < 0.05) and IL-10 (P < 0.05), while negatively correlated with CD 3 + T cells (P < 0.05) and CD3 + CD4 + T cells (P < 0.05).
The viral loads are similar between asymptomatic, mild and severe or critical patients with COVID-19. The severity of COVID-19 may be related to underlying diseases such as diabetes mellitus. Lymphocyte subset and plasma cytokine levels may be as the markers to distinguish severely degrees of disease, and asymptomatic patients may be as an important source of infection for the COVID-19.
Publication Date: 2021-06-14
Journal: Virology journal