Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences




Background/aim: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a wide clinical spectrum from asymptomatic to mild, moderate, and severe cases. There are still many unknowns about the role of immunoregulatory mechanisms in COVID-19. We aimed to study regulatory T cells (Tregs) and B cell subsets and evaluate their correlations with severity of COVID-19. Materials and methods: In total, 50 patients with COVID-19 confirmed by PCR (mean age = 49.9 ± 12.8 years) and 40 healthy control (mean age = 47.9 ± 14.7 years) were included in this study. The patients were classified as 14 mild (median age = 35.5 [24-73] years), 22 moderate (median age = 51.5 [28-67] years) and 14 severe (median age = 55.5 [42-67] years). Within 24 h of admission, flow cytometry was used to assess the lymphocyte subsets, Tregs and Bregs without receiving any relevant medication. Results: In all patients with COVID-19, the proportion of CD3+CD8+ T cells was reduced (p = 0.004) and the CD8+ Tregs were increased compared with control (p = 0.001). While the levels of regulatory B cells, plasmablasts, and mature naive B cells were found to be significantly high, primarily memory B-cell levels were low in all patients compared with controls (p < 0.05). Total CD3+ T cells were negatively correlated with the length of stay in the hospital (r = -0.286, p = 0.044). Conclusion: The changes in T and B cell subsets may show the dysregulation in the immunity of patients with COVID-19. In this context, the association between CD8+ Tregs and COVID-19 severity may help clinicians to predict severe and fatal COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.

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