Review article: Human Blood Cell Pathophysiology Associated with Acute COVID-19 Infection


Anna Nguon, Indu Singh, Roselyn Rose’Meyer


December 2019 marked the beginning of an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2), which occurred in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The most publicized effect of this virus is its impact on the human lungs, damaging the walls and lining of the air sacs causing respiratory symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and chest pain. This literature review highlights the changes in erythrocytes, leukocytes, and platelets during COVID-19 infections. Publicly available articles and reports related to COVID-19 infections on blood cell populations were collected and summarized. COVID-19 viral infections alter erythrocytic glycolytic pathways and membranes, and the ability to transport and deliver oxygen. T-cell lymphopenia is common among COVID-19 patients. The leukocytes produce excess inflammatory products during a “cytokine storm” where T and B lymphocytes, natural killer cells, neutrophils, and macrophages secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines to attenuate natural killer function to resolve inflammation. This further activates cytokine release from neutrophils and macrophages which, in turn, leads to exponential increase in inflammation, release of reactive oxygen species, superoxide anion, and nitric oxide, and associated tissue damage.   With respect to platelets, thrombocytopenia has been observed in COVID-19 patients. The virus infects bone marrow cells resulting in abnormal hematopoiesis, direct destruction of platelets associated with the cytokine storm and immune function, and increased platelet consumption and tissue damage caused by the virus. The function of blood cell populations is severely compromised by SARS-CoV-2, contributing to severe disease outcomes, such as tissue and organ damage, and death. As more information is available about the virus, vaccines and the effect on erythrocyte, leukocyte, and platelet pathophysiology, this infor¬mation will be used to develop new therapeutics to improve the recovery of patients from this disease.


Key words: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, erythrocytes, leukocytes, platelets


Int. J. Bio. Lab. Sci 2022(11)2:90-95 【PDF】

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