J Immunother Cancer 9 (6) - [2021-06-00; online 2021-06-13]
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has highly variable disease severity and a bimodal course characterized by acute respiratory viral infection followed by hyperinflammation in a subset of patients with severe disease. This immune dysregulation is characterized by lymphocytopenia, elevated levels of plasma cytokines and proliferative and exhausted T cells, among other dysfunctional cell types. Immunocompromised persons often fare worse in the context of acute respiratory infections, but preliminary data suggest this may not hold true for COVID-19. In this review, we explore the effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on mortality in four populations with distinct forms of immunocompromise: (1) persons with hematological malignancies (HM) and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HCT) recipients; (2) solid organ transplant recipients (SOTRs); (3) persons with rheumatological diseases; and (4) persons living with HIV (PLWH). For each population, key immunological defects are described and how these relate to the immune dysregulation in COVID-19. Next, outcomes including mortality after SARS-CoV-2 infection are described for each population, giving comparisons to the general population of age-matched and comorbidity-matched controls. In these four populations, iatrogenic or disease-related immunosuppression is not clearly associated with poor prognosis in HM, HCT, SOTR, rheumatological diseases, or HIV. However, certain individual immunosuppressants or disease states may be associated with harmful or beneficial effects, including harm from severe CD4 lymphocytopenia in PLWH and possible benefit to the calcineurin inhibitor ciclosporin in SOTRs, or tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitors in persons with rheumatic diseases. Lastly, insights gained from clinical and translational studies are explored as to the relevance for repurposing of immunosuppressive host-directed therapies for the treatment of hyperinflammation in COVID-19 in the general population.