Differential Regulation of CD45 Expression on Granulocytes, Lymphocytes, and Monocytes in COVID-19

CD45 is a transmembrane glycoprotein and protein tyrosine phosphatase expressed on the surface of all nucleated hematopoietic cells. While there is increasing evidence demonstrating the involvement of CD45 in immune system regulation, no information on CD45 expression in inflammation and sepsis is currently available. Therefore, we determined the CD45 surface expression on granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes in patients with COVID-19 and healthy volunteers in both absence and presence of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Following approval by the local ethics committee, whole blood samples were obtained from patients with COVID-19 infection on day 1 of hospital admission and healthy volunteers. Samples were incubated in absence and presence of LPS and CD45 was measured in granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes using flow cytometry. In comparison with healthy individuals, COVID-19 patients showed an increased CD45 expression on the surface of granulocytes (+35%, p < 0.02) and lymphocytes (+39%, p < 0.0001), but a reduced CD45 expression on monocytes (-35%, p < 0.0001). LPS incubation of whole blood from healthy individuals increased the CD45 expression on granulocytes (+430%, p < 0.0001), lymphocytes (+32%, p = 0.0012), and monocytes (+36%, p = 0.0005), respectively. LPS incubation of whole blood samples from COVID-19 patients increased the CD45 expression on granulocytes and monocytes, and decreased the CD45 expression on lymphocytes. In conclusion, CD45 expression on leucocytes is altered: (1) in COVID-19 patients, and (2) in in vitro endotoxemia in a complex cell-specific way, thus representing a new immunoregulatory mechanism.


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