Obesity in Severe COVID-19 Patients Has a Distinct Innate Immune Phenotype

Ayane de Sá Resende, Yrna Lorena Matos de Oliveira, Mariana Nobre Farias de Franca, Lucas Sousa Magalhães, Cristiane Bani Correa, Kiyoshi Ferreira Fukutani, Michael Wheeler Lipscomb, Tatiana Rodrigues de Moura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obesity alters the capacity of effective immune responses in infections. To further address this phenomenon in the context of COVID-19, this study investigated how the immunophenotype of leukocytes was altered in individuals with obesity in severe COVID-19. This cross-sectional study enrolled 27 ICU COVID-19 patients (67% women, 56.33 ± 19.55 years) that were assigned to obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2, n = 9) or non-obese (BMI < 30kg/m2, n = 18) groups. Monocytes, NK, and both Low-Density (LD) and High-Density (HD) neutrophils were isolated from peripheral blood samples, and surface receptors’ frequency and expression patterns were analyzed by flow cytometry. Clinical status and biochemical data were additionally evaluated. The frequency of monocytes was negatively correlated with BMI, while NK cells and HD neutrophils were positively associated (p < 0.05). Patients with obesity showed a significant reduction of monocytes, and these cells expressed high levels of PD-L1 (p < 0.05). A higher frequency of NK cells and increased expression of TREM-1+ on HD neutrophils were detected in obese patients (p < 0.05). The expression of receptors related to antigen-presentation, phagocytosis, chemotaxis, inflammation and suppression were strongly correlated with clinical markers only in obese patients (p < 0.05). Collectively, these outcomes revealed that obesity differentially affected, and largely depressed, innate immune response in severe COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2116
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge all the study volunteers and thank all healthcare professionals who have been on the front lines facing COVID-19, especially those who helped us with data collection. The authors also acknowledge Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) for academic support.

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants MCTIC/CNPq N 28/2018, Process: 421060/2018-2. A.s.S.R., Y.L.M.d.O. and M.N.F.d.F. have fellowships supported by CAPES and CNPq. T.R.d.M. and C.B.C. are scientists supported by CNPQ.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • body mass index
  • innate immune responses
  • obesity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Obesity in Severe COVID-19 Patients Has a Distinct Innate Immune Phenotype'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this