Although most SARS-CoV-2 infections are mild, some patients develop systemic inflammation and progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). However, the cellular mechanisms underlying this spectrum of disease remain unclear. γδT cells are T lymphocyte subsets that have key roles in systemic and mucosal immune responses during infection and inflammation. Here we show that peripheral γδT cells are rapidly activated following aerosol or intra-tracheal/intra-nasal (IT/IN) SARS-CoV-2 infection in nonhuman primates. Our results demonstrate a rapid expansion of Vδ1 γδT cells at day1 that correlate significantly with lung viral loads during the first week of infection. Furthermore, increase in levels of CCR6 and Granzyme B expression in Vδ1 T cells during viral clearance imply a role in innate-like epithelial barrier-protective and cytotoxic functions. Importantly, the early activation and mobilization of circulating HLA-DR+CXCR3+ γδT cells along with significant correlations of Vδ1 T cells with IL-1Ra and SCF levels in bronchoalveolar lavage suggest a novel role for Vδ1 T cells in regulating lung inflammation during aerosol SARS-CoV-2 infection. A deeper understanding of the immunoregulatory functions of MHC-unrestricted Vδ1 T cells in lungs during early SARS-CoV-2 infection is particularly important in the wake of emerging new variants with increased transmissibility and immune evasion potential.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences