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, Sigrid Gouma , James Robinson, Allison R Greenplate, Madeline A Hwee , Florence Porterfield, Olutosin Owoyemi, Karan Naik, Cathy Zheng, Michael Galantino, Ariel R Weisman , Caroline A G Ittner , Emily M Kugler , Amy E Baxter, Olutwatosin Oniyide, Roseline S Agyekum , Thomas G Dunn , Tiffanie K Jones, Heather M Giannini, Madison E Weirick, Christopher M McAllister , N Esther Babady, Anita Kumar , Adam J Widman, Susan DeWolf , Sawsan R Boutemine, Charlotte Roberts , Krista R Budzik , Susan Tollett , Carla Wright, Tara Perloff, Lova Sun, Divij Mathew, Josephine R Giles, Derek A Oldridge, Jennifer E Wu, Cécile Alanio, Sharon Adamski, Alfred L Garfall, Laura A Vella, Samuel J Kerr , Justine V Cohen, Randall A Oyer, Ryan Massa, Ivan P Maillard, Kara N Maxwell, John P Reilly , Peter G Maslak, Robert H Vonderheide, Jedd D Wolchok, Scott E Hensley, E John Wherry, Nuala J Meyer, Angela M DeMichele, Santosha A Vardhana, Ronac Mamtani, Alexander C Huang.

Nat Med. 2021 Jul;27(7):1280-1289.


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.