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Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(4)2022 Apr 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1792374


Longevity of the immune response following viral exposure is an essential aspect of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Mild SARS-CoV-2 infection of K18-hACE2 mice was implemented for evaluating the mounting and longevity of a specific memory immune response. We show that the infection of K18-hACE2 mice induced robust humoral and cellular immunity (systemic and local), which persisted for at least six months. Virus-specific T cells and neutralizing antibody titers decreased over time, yet their levels were sufficient to provide sterile immunity against lethal rechallenge six months post-primary infection. The study substantiates the role of naturally induced immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection for preventing recurring morbidity.

Pathogens ; 10(8)2021 Jul 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1325751


HLA transgenic mice are instrumental for evaluation of human-specific immune responses to viral infection. Mice do not develop COVID-19 upon infection with SARS-CoV-2 due to the strict tropism of the virus to the human ACE2 receptor. The aim of the current study was the implementation of an adenovirus-mediated infection protocol for human ACE2 expression in HLA transgenic mice. Transient pulmonary expression of the human ACE2 receptor in these mice results in their sensitisation to SARS-CoV-2 infection, consequently providing a valuable animal model for COVID-19. Infection results in a transient loss in body weight starting 3 days post-infection, reaching 20-30% loss of weight at day 7 and full recovery at days 11-13 post-infection. The evolution of the disease revealed high reproducibility and very low variability among individual mice. The method was implemented in two different strains of HLA immunized mice. Infected animals developed strong protective humoral and cellular immune responses specific to the viral spike-protein, strictly depending on the adenovirus-mediated human ACE2 expression. Convalescent animals were protected against a subsequent re-infection with SARS-CoV-2, demonstrating that the model may be applied for assessment of efficacy of anti-viral immune responses.

JCI Insight ; 6(12)2021 06 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1223641


Mice are normally unaffected by SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection since the virus does not bind effectively to the murine version of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor molecule. Here, we report that induced mild pulmonary morbidities rendered SARS-CoV-2-refractive CD-1 mice susceptible to this virus. Specifically, SARS-CoV-2 infection after application of low doses of the acute lung injury stimulants bleomycin or ricin caused severe disease in CD-1 mice, manifested by sustained body weight loss and mortality rates greater than 50%. Further studies revealed markedly higher levels of viral RNA in the lungs, heart, and serum of low-dose ricin-pretreated mice compared with non-pretreated mice. Furthermore, lung extracts prepared 2-3 days after viral infection contained subgenomic mRNA and virus particles capable of replication only when derived from the pretreated mice. The deleterious effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection were effectively alleviated by passive transfer of polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies generated against the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD). Thus, viral cell entry in the sensitized mice seems to depend on viral RBD binding, albeit by a mechanism other than the canonical ACE2-mediated uptake route. This unique mode of viral entry, observed over a mildly injured tissue background, may contribute to the exacerbation of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pathologies in patients with preexisting morbidities.

Bleomycin/toxicity , COVID-19/pathology , Lung Injury , Ricin/toxicity , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Comorbidity , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Lung Injury/chemically induced , Lung Injury/virology , Mice , Vero Cells , Virus Attachment , Virus Internalization/drug effects
Viruses ; 13(4)2021 03 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1154538


Monoclonal antibodies represent an important avenue for COVID-19 therapy and are routinely used for rapid and accessible diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic variants emphasized the need to enlarge the repertoire of antibodies that target diverse epitopes, the combination of which may improve immune-diagnostics, augment the efficiency of the immunotherapy and prevent selection of escape-mutants. Antigen-specific controlled immunization of experimental animals may elicit antibody repertoires that significantly differ from those generated in the context of the immune response mounted in the course of disease. Accordingly, rabbits were immunized by several recombinant antigens representing distinct domains of the viral spike protein and monoclonal antibodies were isolated from single cells obtained by cell sorting. Characterization of a panel of successfully isolated anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) and anti-N-terminal domain (NTD) antibodies demonstrated that they exhibit high specificity and affinity profiles. Anti-RBD antibodies revealing significant neutralizing potency against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro were found to target at least three distinct epitopes. Epitope mapping established that two of these antibodies recognized a novel epitope located on the surface of the RBD. We suggest that the antibodies isolated in this study are useful for designing SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and therapy approaches.

Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Epitope Mapping , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/genetics , Epitopes/immunology , Female , Humans , Neutralization Tests , Rabbits , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics