The medical, public health, and scientific communities are grappling with monumental imperatives to contain COVID-19, develop effective vaccines, identify efficacious treatments for the infection and its complications, and find biomarkers that detect patients at risk of severe disease. The focus of this communication is on a potential biomarker, short telomere length (TL), that might serve to identify patients more likely to die from the SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of age. The common thread linking these patients is lymphopenia, which largely reflects a decline in the numbers of CD4/CD8 T cells but not B cells. These findings are consistent with data that lymphocyte TL dynamics impose a limit on T-cell proliferation. They suggest that T-cell lymphopoiesis might stall in individuals with short TL who are infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7247-7252
Number of pages6
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


  • COVID-19
  • T cells
  • Telomeres
  • lymphopenia

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