Amali Samarasinghe, PhD

Amali Samarasinghe, PhD

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Research Project:
Can Eosinophils Help Immune System Defend Against SARS-CoV-2?

Grant Awarded:

  • COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

Research Topics:

  • basic biologic mechanisms
  • immunology immunotherapy

Research Disease:

  • COVID-19

Eosinophils are immune cells that have been considered essential during parasite infections. However, discoveries made in the past two decades emphasized that eosinophil functions are complex and important during respiratory virus infections. We have shown that eosinophils are potent fighters against influenza A virus infection and, together with known responses against other viruses, there is a high likelihood that eosinophils have antiviral properties against SARS-CoV-2. Observations in patients from around the world indicate that eosinophil loss occurs in severe COVID-19 and that the replenishment of eosinophils correlates with patient recovery. Our goal is to investigate whether eosinophils are important to host defense strategies against SARS-CoV-2, including variant strains. 

We have begun exploring our COVID-19 patient cohort to determine asthma status and markers of eosinophil profile in these patients to correlate asthma severity with COVID-19. Since less than 25% had a chronic lung disease (including asthma) in this patient cohort, we are performing a detailed review of these indicators to determine the number of patients with clinical asthma. Our parallel studies using purified eosinophils have shown that the infectivity of the Wuhan strain and a B lineage mutant strain of SARS-CoV-2 are neutralized by eosinophils. Future studies are aimed to determining the mechanism of viral neutralization by eosinophils.

Page last updated: September 12, 2023

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