Covid-19 specific immune markers revealed by single cell phenotypic profiling

Francesca Sansico, Mattia Miroballo, Daniele Salvatore Bianco, Francesco Tamiro, Mattia Colucci, Elisabetta De Santis, Giovanni Rossi, Jessica Rosati, Lazzaro Di Mauro, Giuseppe Miscio, Tommaso Mazza, Angelo Luigi Vescovi, Gianluigi Mazzoccoli, Vincenzo Giambra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


COVID-19 is a viral infection, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and characterized by a complex inflammatory process and clinical immunophe-notypes. Nowadays, several alterations of immune response within the respiratory tracts as well as at the level of the peripheral blood have been well documented. Nonetheless, their effects on COVID-19-related cell heterogeneity and disease progression are less defined. Here, we performed a single-cell RNA sequencing of about 400 transcripts relevant to immune cell function including surface markers, in mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from the peripheral blood of 50 subjects, infected with SARS-CoV-2 at the diagnosis and 27 healthy blood donors as control. We found that patients with COVID-19 exhibited an increase in COVID-specific surface markers in different subsets of immune cell composition. Interestingly, the expression of cell receptors, such as IFNGR1 and CXCR4, was reduced in response to the viral infection and associated with the inhibition of the related signaling pathways and immune functions. These results highlight novel immunoreceptors, selectively expressed in COVID-19 patients, which affect the immune functionality and are correlated with clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1794
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 29 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Flow cytometry
  • Immune cells
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Single-cell RNA sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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