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CD8+ T cells contribute to survival in patients with COVID-19 and hematologic cancer

Erin M. Bange, Nicholas A. Han, Paul Wileyto, Justin Y. Kim, , James Robinson, Allison R. Greenplate, Madeline A. Hwee, Florence Porterfield, Olutosin Owoyemi
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Published: 20 May 2021
Nature Medicine , Volume 27, pp 1-10; doi:10.1038/s41591-021-01386-7

Abstract: Patients with cancer have high mortality from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the immune parameters that dictate clinical outcomes remain unknown. In a cohort of 100 patients with cancer who were hospitalized for COVID-19, patients with hematologic cancer had higher mortality relative to patients with solid cancer. In two additional cohorts, flow cytometric and serologic analyses demonstrated that patients with solid cancer and patients without cancer had a similar immune phenotype during acute COVID-19, whereas patients with hematologic cancer had impairment of B cells and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific antibody responses. Despite the impaired humoral immunity and high mortality in patients with hematologic cancer who also have COVID-19, those with a greater number of CD8 T cells had improved survival, including those treated with anti-CD20 therapy. Furthermore, 77% of patients with hematologic cancer had detectable SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses. Thus, CD8 T cells might influence recovery from COVID-19 when humoral immunity is deficient. These observations suggest that CD8 T cell responses to vaccination might provide protection in patients with hematologic cancer even in the setting of limited humoral responses. A study of hospitalized patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 and who have liquid or solid cancer suggests that hematologic malignancy is an independent risk factor for mortality and that CD8+ T cells might limit infection in this setting irrespective of humoral immunity.
Keywords: COVID / survival / solid cancer / hospitalized / patients with hematologic cancer / Patients with cancer / vaccination / antibody

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