Sex differences in immune responses that underlie COVID-19 disease outcomes

Takahashi, T. et al. (2020) Sex differences in immune responses that underlie COVID-19 disease outcomes. Nature, 588(7837), pp. 315-320. (doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2700-3) (PMID:32846427) (PMCID:PMC7725931)

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There is increasing evidence that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) produces more severe symptoms and higher mortality among men than among women1,2,3,4,5. However, whether immune responses against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) differ between sexes, and whether such differences correlate with the sex difference in the disease course of COVID-19, is currently unknown. Here we examined sex differences in viral loads, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody titres, plasma cytokines and blood-cell phenotyping in patients with moderate COVID-19 who had not received immunomodulatory medications. Male patients had higher plasma levels of innate immune cytokines such as IL-8 and IL-18 along with more robust induction of non-classical monocytes. By contrast, female patients had more robust T cell activation than male patients during SARS-CoV-2 infection. Notably, we found that a poor T cell response negatively correlated with patients’ age and was associated with worse disease outcome in male patients, but not in female patients. By contrast, higher levels of innate immune cytokines were associated with worse disease progression in female patients, but not in male patients. These findings provide a possible explanation for the observed sex biases in COVID-19, and provide an important basis for the development of a sex-based approach to the treatment and care of male and female patients with COVID-19.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Meir Ben Efraim, Dr Amit
Authors: Takahashi, T., Ellingson, M. K., Wong, P., Israelow, B., Lucas, C., Klein, J., Silva, J., Mao, T., Oh, J. E., Tokuyama, M., Lu, P., Venkataraman, A., Park, A., Liu, F., Meir, A., Sun, J., Wang, E. Y., Casanovas-Massana, A., Wyllie, A. L., Vogels, C. B. F., Earnest, R., Lapidus, S., Ott, I. M., Moore, A. J., Anastasio, K., Askenase, M. H., Batsu, M., Beatty, H., Bermejo, S., Bickerton, S., Brower, K., Bucklin, M. L., Cahill, S., Campbell, M., Cao, Y., Courchaine, E., Datta, R., DeIuliis, G., Geng, B., Glick, L., Handoko, R., Kalinich, C., Khoury-Hanold, W., Kim, D., Knaggs, L., Kuang, M., Kudo, E., Lim, J., Linehan, M., Lu-Culligan, A., Malik, A. A., Martin, A., Matos, I., McDonald, D., Minasyan, M., Mohanty, S., Muenker, M. C., Naushad, N., Nelson, A., Nouws, J., Nunez-Smith, M., Obaid, A., Ott, I., Park, H.-J., Peng, X., Petrone, M., Prophet, S., Rahming, H., Rice, T., Rose, K.-A., Sewanan, L., Sharma, L., Shepard, D., Silva, E., Simonov, M., Smolgovsky, M., Song, E., Sonnert, N., Strong, Y., Todeasa, C., Valdez, J., Velazquez, S., Vijayakumar, P., Wang, H., Watkins, A., White, E. B., Yang, Y., Shaw, A., Fournier, J. B., Odio, C. D., Farhadian, S., Dela Cruz, C., Grubaugh, N. D., Schulz, W. L., Ring, A. M., Ko, A. I., Omer, S. B., and Iwasaki, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:Nature
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):1476-4687
Published Online:26 August 2020

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