The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is associated with high mortality and hospitalization rates. However, many patients who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 remain asymptomatic or develop mild symptoms.
In a recent study published on the preprint server bioRxiv*, researchers focus on the relationship between the pre-existing airway neutrophils and SARS-CoV-2 infection to determine the impact that neutrophils have on COVID-19.
An overview of neutrophils
Neutrophils are the first and predominant immune cells that are recruited to the respiratory tract in response to viral infection. Upon their arrival, neutrophils release various inflammatory mediators in an effort to rapidly eliminate the pathogen from the infected area.
Neutrophils are capable of recognizing infectious sites as well as act as sites of infections which, together, leads to an acute inflammatory response. An uncontrolled massive inflammatory response, which is also known as the cytokine storm, has been documented in patients with severe COVID-19.
“Despite their importance in anti-viral immunity and response to viral pathogens, neutrophils have been somewhat overlooked for their role in the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”