Convalescent COVID-19 patients are susceptible to endothelial dysfunction due to persistent immune activation

Link to article at PubMed

Elife. 2021 Mar 23;10:e64909. doi: 10.7554/eLife.64909.

ABSTRACT

Numerous reports of vascular events after an initial recovery from COVID-19 form our impetus to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on vascular health of recovered patients. We found elevated levels of circulating endothelial cells (CECs), a biomarker of vascular injury, in COVID-19 convalescents compared to healthy controls. In particular, those with pre-existing conditions (e.g., hypertension, diabetes) had more pronounced endothelial activation hallmarks than non-COVID-19 patients with matched cardiovascular risk. Several proinflammatory and activated T lymphocyte-associated cytokines sustained from acute infection to recovery phase, which correlated positively with CEC measures, implicating cytokine-driven endothelial dysfunction. Notably, we found higher frequency of effector T cells in our COVID-19 convalescents compared to healthy controls. The activation markers detected on CECs mapped to counter receptors found primarily on cytotoxic CD8+ T cells, raising the possibility of cytotoxic effector cells targeting activated endothelial cells. Clinical trials in preventive therapy for post-COVID-19 vascular complications may be needed.

PMID:33752798 | DOI:10.7554/eLife.64909

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