Increased IL-10-producing regulatory T cells are characteristic of severe cases of COVID-19.
The pandemic spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is due, in part, to the immunological properties of the host-virus interaction. The clinical presentation varies from individual to individual, with asymptomatic carriers, mild-to-moderate-presenting patients and severely affected patients. Variation in immune response to SARS-CoV-2 may underlie this clinical variation.Using a high-dimensional systems immunology platform, we have analysed the peripheral blood compartment of 6 healthy individuals, 23 mild-to-moderate and 20 severe COVID-19 patients.We identify distinct immunological signatures in the peripheral blood of the mild-to-moderate and severe COVID-19 patients, including T-cell lymphopenia, more consistent with peripheral hypo- than hyper-immune activation. Unique to the severe COVID-19 cases was a large increase in the proportion of IL-10-secreting regulatory T cells, a lineage known to possess anti-inflammatory properties in the lung.As IL-10-secreting regulatory T cells are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties in the lung, their proportional increase could contribute to a more severe COVID-19 phenotype. We openly provide annotated data (https://flowrepository.org/experiments/2713) with clinical correlates as a systems immunology resource for the COVID-19 research community.