Human small intestinal infection by SARS-CoV-2 is characterized by an activation of CD8+ T cells
Symptoms of COVID-19 suggest a multisystemic disease including the gastrointestinal system. Analysing biopsies of the small intestine from COVID-19 patients using imaging mass cytometry we identified histomorphological changes of the epithelium, characterized by infiltrating CD8+ T cells as well as epithelial apoptosis and regeneration. We hypothesize CD8+ T cell activation and migration into the intestinal epithelium upon infection of intestinal cells as a possible cause for gastrointestinal symptoms.
Malte Lehmann is currently a physician and post doc at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. He graduated at the University of Dresden where he also obtained his MD. His current research focuses on inflammatory bowel disease, especially the formation of fistulas in Crohn’s disease patients. During the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic he is using imaging mass cytometry to explore the immune response in the small intestinal mucosa in COVID-19 patients.