Clin Transl Immunology. 2020 Sep 26;9(9):e1182. doi: 10.1002/cti2.1182. eCollection 2020.
OBJECTIVES: Asymptomatic and symptomatic patients may transmit severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), but their clinical features and immune responses remain largely unclear. We aimed to characterise the clinical features and immune responses of asymptomatic and symptomatic patients infected with SARS-CoV-2.
METHODS: We collected clinical, laboratory and epidemiological records of patients hospitalised in a coronavirus field hospital in Wuhan. We performed qualitative detection of anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) using archived blood samples.
RESULTS: Of 214 patients with SARS-CoV-2, 26 (12%) were asymptomatic at hospital admission and during hospitalisation. Most asymptomatic patients were ≤ 60 years (96%) and females (65%) and had few comorbidities (< 16%). Serum levels of white and red blood cells were higher in asymptomatic than in symptomatic patients (P-values < 0.05). During hospitalisation, IgG seroconversion was commonly observed in both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients (85% versus 94%, P-value = 0.07); in contrast, IgM seroconversion was less common in asymptomatic than in symptomatic patients (31% versus 74%, P-value < 0.001). The median time from the first virus-positive screening to IgG or IgM seroconversion was significantly shorter in asymptomatic than in symptomatic patients (median: 7 versus 14 days, P-value < 0.01). Furthermore, IgG/IgM seroconversion rates increased concomitantly with the clearance of SARS-CoV-2 in both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients. At the time of virus clearance, IgG/IgM titres and plasma neutralisation capacity were significantly lower in recovered asymptomatic than in recovered symptomatic patients (P-values < 0.01).
CONCLUSION: Asymptomatic and symptomatic patients exhibited different kinetics of IgG/IgM responses to SARS-CoV-2. Asymptomatic patients may transmit SARS-CoV-2, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.