COVID-19-associated lymphopenia

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Oluwabusola Fausat Adogba, MD[2]

Synonyms and keywords:Lymphocyte changes in COVID-19, sars-cov-2 related lymphopenia


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been considered as a global pandemic since its first emergence in Wuhan, China. On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. There is no established system for the classification regarding COVID-19 related lymphopenia. Four hypothetical mechanisms regarding lymphopenia in covid19 infection are direct infection of lymphocyte, direct destroying of lymphocytic organs, inflammatory cytokines such as TNFɑ, IL-6, lymphocyte inhibition.

Historical Perspective


  • There is no established system for the classification regarding COVID-19 related lymphopenia.



Differentiating COVID-19 related Lymphocytopenia from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


  • Lymphopenia on admission has been associated with predicting the severity of clinical outcomes. Approximately, a three-fold increase in severity has been associated with lymphopenia on admission.[10]
  • A routine complete blood count (CBC) with differential can be used for monitoring and predicting disease progression and severity in patients.

Natural History, Complications, and Prognosis


Diagnostic Choice of Study

History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

  • There are no physical findings associated with lymphopenia.
  • However patients with significant lymphopenia can show signs of the associated disorder, in this case COVID-19 symptoms.
  • For more information about COVID-19 physical examination please click here.

Laboratory findings



Echocardiography or Ultrasound

CT Scan


Other imaging findings

Other Diagnostic studies


Medical therapy

Immune-Based Therapy:

  • The COVID-19 treatment guidelines panel (the panel) recommends against the use of non-SARS-CoV-2-specific intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) for the treatment of COVID-19, except in the context of a clinical trial. This should not preclude the use of IVIG when it is otherwise indicated for the treatment of complications that arise during the course of COVID-19.


  • Surgical intervention is not recommended for the management of COVID-19 associated lymphopenia.

Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention


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  2. Ruan, Qiurong; Yang, Kun; Wang, Wenxia; Jiang, Lingyu; Song, Jianxin (2020). "Clinical predictors of mortality due to COVID-19 based on an analysis of data of 150 patients from Wuhan, China". Intensive Care Medicine. 46 (5): 846–848. doi:10.1007/s00134-020-05991-x. ISSN 0342-4642.
  3. Fischer, Karin; Hoffmann, Petra; Voelkl, Simon; Meidenbauer, Norbert; Ammer, Julia; Edinger, Matthias; Gottfried, Eva; Schwarz, Sabine; Rothe, Gregor; Hoves, Sabine; Renner, Kathrin; Timischl, Birgit; Mackensen, Andreas; Kunz-Schughart, Leoni; Andreesen, Reinhard; Krause, Stefan W.; Kreutz, Marina (2007). "Inhibitory effect of tumor cell–derived lactic acid on human T cells". Blood. 109 (9): 3812–3819. doi:10.1182/blood-2006-07-035972. ISSN 0006-4971.
  4. Liao, Yuan-Chun; Liang, Wei-Guang; Chen, Feng-Wei; Hsu, Ju-Hui; Yang, Jiann-Jou; Chang, Ming-Shi (2002). "IL-19 Induces Production of IL-6 and TNF-α and Results in Cell Apoptosis Through TNF-α". The Journal of Immunology. 169 (8): 4288–4297. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.169.8.4288. ISSN 0022-1767.
  5. W L Ng, C M Chu, A K L Wu, V C C Cheng, K Y Yuen. "Lymphopenia at presentation is associated with increased risk of infections in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus". Quarterly Journal of Medicine. 99 (1): 37–47. doi:10.1093/qjmed/hci155.
  6. Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  7. Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X
  8. "WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard | WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard".
  9. "People Who Are at Higher Risk for Severe Illness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 | CDC".
  10. 10.0 10.1 Zhao, Qianwen; Meng, Meng; Kumar, Rahul; Wu, Yinlian; Huang, Jiaofeng; Deng, Yunlei; Weng, Zhiyuan; Yang, Li (2020). "Lymphopenia is associated with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections: A systemic review and meta-analysis". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 96: 131–135. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2020.04.086. ISSN 1201-9712.
  11. "Management of Patients with Confirmed 2019-nCoV | CDC".
  12. Huang, Ian; Pranata, Raymond (2020). "Lymphopenia in severe coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19): systematic review and meta-analysis". Journal of Intensive Care. 8 (1). doi:10.1186/s40560-020-00453-4. ISSN 2052-0492.
  13. Fathi, Nazanin; Rezaei, Nima (2020). "Lymphopenia in COVID‐19: Therapeutic opportunities". Cell Biology International. doi:10.1002/cbin.11403. ISSN 1065-6995.
  14. "Symptoms of Coronavirus | CDC".

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