Am J Clin Pathol. 2020 Aug 5;154(3):319-329. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/aqaa108.
OBJECTIVES: Peripheral blood abnormalities in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have not been fully elucidated. We report qualitative and quantitative peripheral blood findings in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and compare them with a control group.
METHODS: We reviewed electronic medical records, complete blood counts, peripheral blood smears, and flow cytometry data in 12 patients with SARS-CoV-2. These were compared with 10 control patients with symptoms suspicious for SARS-CoV-2 but who tested negative.
RESULTS: No significant differences were noted in blood counts, except that absolute lymphopenia was present frequently in the control group (P < .05). Acquired Pelger-Huët anomaly (APHA) was noted in all COVID-19 cases, in most cases affecting over 5% of granulocytes. This contrasted with APHA in only 50% of control cases, affecting fewer than 5% of granulocytes in all cases (P < .05). Monolobate neutrophils were exclusive to COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 patients had greater frequency of plasmacytoid lymphocytes (P < .05). Flow cytometry data revealed absolute CD3+ T-cell count reduction in 6 of 7 patients; all of them required mechanical ventilation.
CONCLUSIONS: Lymphopenia was infrequent in our COVID-19 cohort; however, flow cytometric analysis revealed absolute T-cell count reduction in most cases. COVID-19 cases had significant APHA with monolobate neutrophils and plasmacytoid lymphocytes as compared to controls.