The immune system is tightly regulated to prevent immune reactions to self-antigens and to avoid excessive immune responses during and after challenges from non-self-antigens. Inhibitory immune checkpoints (IICPs), as the major regulators of immune system responses, are extremely important for maintaining the homeostasis of cells and tissues. However, the high and sustained co-expression of IICPs in chronic infections, under persistent antigenic stimulations, results in reduced immune cell functioning and more severe and prolonged disease complications. Furthermore, IICPs-mediated interactions can be hijacked by pathogens in order to evade immune induction or effector mechanisms. Therefore, IICPs can be potential targets for the prognosis and treatment of chronic infectious diseases. This is especially the case with regards to the most challenging infectious disease of recent times, coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), whose long-term complications can persist long after recovery. This article reviews the current knowledge about the kinetics and functioning of the IICPs during and post-COVID-19.
- Inhibitory immune checkpoint