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Published: 2024-04-30

Gender disparities in lymphocyte counts and cytokine expression in COVID-19

Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Diyala, 32001, Diyala, Iraq
Deparyment of Medical Immunology, College of Medicine, University of Diyala, 32001, Diyala, Iraq
Department of Biology, School of Natural and Applied Sciences, Cankiri Karatekin University, Cankiri, Turkiye
Department of Medical Immunology, College of Medicine, University of Diyala, 32001, Diyala, Iraq
COVID-19, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-ɣ, PCR test, Lymphocyte, Gender, Iraq


Background: This study seeks to assess gender differences in the severity of COVID-19 infection, which have been noted in different regions during the early stages of the pandemic.

Methods: A cross-sectional study conducted at Baquba Teaching Hospital in Diyala, Iraq, from October 1st to December 31st, 2020, included 132 confirmed COVID-19 patients. These patients underwent a comprehensive set of routine laboratory tests, including complete blood count, blood biochemistry, and D-dimer assessment. Statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS-20, with significance set at p < 0.05.

Results: The study included patients with a mean age of 45.61 (±11.32) years, predominantly male (63.0%), residing in urban areas (57.6%), and presenting with comorbidities (78.8%). All patients exhibited positive results on CT scans (100%) and CRP tests (100%). However, PCR testing confirmed COVID-19 infection in 87.2% of cases, with 12.8% testing negative. Among males, there was a significant increase in IL-6 and IL-10 levels (42.57 ± 7.64 pg/ml and 255.27 ± 21.03 pg/ml) compared to females (16.43 ± 4.19 pg/ml and 187.48 ± 20.35 pg/ml), with p-values <0.001 and 0.003, respectively. Conversely, there was no significant difference in IFN-ɣ levels between males (165.73 ± 16.54 pg/ml) and females (176.12 ± 17.10 pg/ml), with a p-value of 0.105. However, lymphocyte levels were significantly lower in males (4.79 ± 0.85%) compared to females (14.01 ± 1.36%), with a p-value <0.001.

Conclusion: Overall, COVID-19 affects males more severely than females, with males showing weaker immune responses and higher levels of inflammatory cytokines like IL-6 and IL-10. While IFN-ɣ levels do not differ significantly between genders, males have lower lymphocyte counts compared to females.


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How to Cite

Ghaab N, Abid I, Al-Majmaie F, Latif I. Gender disparities in lymphocyte counts and cytokine expression in COVID-19. jidhealth [Internet]. 2024 Apr. 30 [cited 2024 Jun. 15];7(2):1044-8. Available from: