Immunophenotyping of covid-19 and influenza highlights the role of type i interferons in development of severe covid-19

Jeong Seok Lee, Seongwan Park, Hye Won Jeong, Jin Young Ahn, Seong Jin Choi, Hoyoung Lee, Baekgyu Choi, Su Kyung Nam, Moa Sa, Ji Soo Kwon, Su Jin Jeong, Heung Kyu Lee, Sung Ho Park, Su Hyung Park, Jun Yong Choi, Sung Han Kim, Inkyung Jung, Eui Cheol Shin

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421 Citations (Scopus)


Although most SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals experience mild coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), some patients suffer from severe COVID-19, which is accompanied by acute respiratory distress syndrome and systemic inflammation. To identify factors driving severe progression of COVID-19, we performed single-cell RNA-seq using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from healthy donors, patients with mild or severe COVID-19, and patients with severe influenza. Patients with COVID-19 exhibited hyper-inflammatory signatures across all types of cells among PBMCs, particularly up-regulation of the TNF/IL-1β-driven inflammatory response as compared to severe influenza. In classical monocytes from patients with severe COVID-19, type I IFN response co-existed with the TNF/IL-1β-driven inflammation, and this was not seen in patients with milder COVID-19. Interestingly, we documented type I IFN-driven inflammatory features in patients with severe influenza as well. Based on this, we propose that the type I IFN response plays a pivotal role in exacerbating inflammation in severe COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience immunology
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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