Relationship of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 response to COVID-19 severity and impact of HIV-1 and Tuberculosis co-infection
© JUAN GAERTNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
The severity of COVID-19 is determined in part by the quality, not quantity, of coronavirus-specific T cells. In addition, the immune dysfunction wrought by HIV or tuberculosis can impair the capacity of those T cells to fight off SARS-CoV-2 infections in people co-infected with different pathogens.
A team co-led by University of Cape Town researchers interrogated ‘helper’ T cell responses, which play essential roles in coordinating immune defenses against pathogens, in patients hospitalized during South Africa’s first wave of COVID-19.
Among people with greater disease burden, helper T cells tended to exhibit reduced proliferative capacity and were less adept at performing multiple immune functions. Furthermore, co-infection with HIV or tuberculosis was associated with diminished T cell performance and more severe disease.
The findings highlight the disproportionate threat that COVID-19 poses in places already burdened by other deadly infectious diseases.
- Journal of Clinical Investigation 131, e149125 (2021). doi: 10.1172/JCI149125