Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute, highly transmissible infectious disease. SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent and is associated with a cytokine storm characterized by increased plasma concentrations of IL-2, 6, and 10. INF-α2 has been reported to have anti-viral potential and their pre-infection levels have been suggested to drive the fate of the disease. There is a paucity of information on how these cytokines are affected in COVID-19 patients in Cameroon. This study aims to profile the expression levels of IL-2, 6, 10, and INF-α2 in Cameroonian patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
METHODS: A total of 38 participants were followed from the day of diagnosis, D0, 14 days after infection, D14, and 30 days after infection, D30 at CREMER, Cameroon. Among these 15 had consistent sampling through the time points. Antigenic RDT and RT-PCR were performed for nasopharyngeal samples while cytokine levels were measured on the MAGPIX Luminex using plasma. Data were analyzed using GraphPad Prism 9.0 and p-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant
RESULTS: Overall, 64% of participants were symptomatic and 36% were asymptomatic and a male-to-female ratio of 1:1. Although not significant, INF-α2 levels declined from D0 to D30. Males produced significantly more INF-α2 than females (P=0.0037) across the 30 days. Although not significant, individuals 45 years (P>0.05). Although not significant, patients with symptoms presented higher levels of IL-6 compared to the asymptomatic upon diagnosis and these levels decrease over time. Meanwhile, levels of IL-6 in asymptomatic patients rose with time. Similarly, IL-2 and 10 steadily decreased from D0 to D30. CT values on the day of diagnosis were lower in males than in females (p=0.033) and correlated strongly with IL-2 (r=-0.625, p=0.017). IL-2 levels also strongly correlated with those of IL-10 in the patients (r=0.74 p=0.082)
CONCLUSION: This study suggests that IL-6 drives the appearance of symptoms in our study population. Men produce significantly more cytokines than women at the onset of COVID-19 infection and could make them suitable targets of a cytokine storm.
Cameroon, COVID-19, Cytokine profile, SARS CoV2