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1.
Arthritis Rheumatol ; 2021 Dec 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1589171

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases receiving rituximab (RTX) therapy are at higher risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes and show substantially impaired humoral anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine responses. However, the complex relationship between antigen-specific B and T cells and the level of B cell repopulation necessary to achieve anti-vaccine responses remain largely unknown. METHODS: Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and induction of antigen-specific B and CD4/CD8 T cell subsets were studied in 19 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) patients receiving RTX, 12 RA patients on other therapies and 30 healthy controls after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination with either mRNA or vector based vaccines. RESULTS: A minimum of 10 B cells/µL (0,4% of lymphocytes) in the peripheral circulation appeared to be required in RTX patients to mount seroconversion to anti-S1 IgG upon SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. RTX patients lacking IgG seroconversion showed reduced RBD+ B cells, lower frequency of TfH-like cells as well as less activated CD4 and CD8 T cells compared to IgG seroconverted RTX patients. Functionally relevant B cell depletion resulted in impaired IFNγ secretion by spike-specific CD4 T cells. In contrast, antigen-specific CD8 T cells were reduced in patients, independently of IgG formation. CONCLUSIONS: In patients receiving RTX, a minimum of 10 B cells/µl in the peripheral circulation candidates as biomarker for a high likelihood of an appropriate cellular and humoral response after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Mechanistically, the data emphasize the crucial role of co-stimulatory B cell functions for the proper induction of CD4 responses propagating vaccine-specific B and plasma cell differentiation.

2.
Nature ; 600(7888): 295-301, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1483137

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes COVID-19. Given its acute and often self-limiting course, it is likely that components of the innate immune system play a central part in controlling virus replication and determining clinical outcome. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes with notable activity against a broad range of viruses, including RNA viruses1,2. NK cell function may be altered during COVID-19 despite increased representation of NK cells with an activated and adaptive phenotype3,4. Here we show that a decline in viral load in COVID-19 correlates with NK cell status and that NK cells can control SARS-CoV-2 replication by recognizing infected target cells. In severe COVID-19, NK cells show defects in virus control, cytokine production and cell-mediated cytotoxicity despite high expression of cytotoxic effector molecules. Single-cell RNA sequencing of NK cells over the time course of the COVID-19 disease spectrum reveals a distinct gene expression signature. Transcriptional networks of interferon-driven NK cell activation are superimposed by a dominant transforming growth factor-ß (TGFß) response signature, with reduced expression of genes related to cell-cell adhesion, granule exocytosis and cell-mediated cytotoxicity. In severe COVID-19, serum levels of TGFß peak during the first two weeks of infection, and serum obtained from these patients severely inhibits NK cell function in a TGFß-dependent manner. Our data reveal that an untimely production of TGFß is a hallmark of severe COVID-19 and may inhibit NK cell function and early control of the virus.

3.
Sci Immunol ; 6(60)2021 06 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1369380

ABSTRACT

Patients with kidney failure are at increased risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection making effective vaccinations a critical need. It is not known how well mRNA vaccines induce B and plasma cell responses in dialysis patients (DP) or kidney transplant recipients (KTR) compared to healthy controls (HC). We studied humoral and B cell responses of 35 HC, 44 DP and 40 KTR. Markedly impaired anti-BNT162b2 responses were identified among KTR and DP compared to HC. In DP, the response was delayed (3-4 weeks after boost) and reduced with anti-S1 IgG and IgA positivity in 70.5% and 68.2%, respectively. In contrast, KTR did not develop IgG responses except one patient who had a prior unrecognized infection and developed anti-S1 IgG. The majority of antigen-specific B cells (RBD+) were identified in the plasmablast or post-switch memory B cell compartments in HC, whereas RBD+ B cells were enriched among pre-switch and naïve B cells from DP and KTR. The frequency and absolute number of antigen-specific circulating plasmablasts in the cohort correlated with the Ig response, a characteristic not reported for other vaccinations. In conclusion, these data indicated that immunosuppression resulted in impaired protective immunity after mRNA vaccination, including Ig induction with corresponding generation of plasmablasts and memory B cells. Thus, there is an urgent need to improve vaccination protocols in patients after kidney transplantation or on chronic dialysis.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunocompromised Host , Kidney Transplantation , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunity, Humoral/drug effects , Immunity, Humoral/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , Renal Dialysis , SARS-CoV-2 , Transplant Recipients
4.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1961, 2021 03 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1169399

ABSTRACT

The pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 reflects an inefficient immune reaction to SARS-CoV-2. Here we analyze, at the single cell level, plasmablasts egressed into the blood to study the dynamics of adaptive immune response in COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care. Before seroconversion in response to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, peripheral plasmablasts display a type 1 interferon-induced gene expression signature; however, following seroconversion, plasmablasts lose this signature, express instead gene signatures induced by IL-21 and TGF-ß, and produce mostly IgG1 and IgA1. In the sustained immune reaction from COVID-19 patients, plasmablasts shift to the expression of IgA2, thereby reflecting an instruction by TGF-ß. Despite their continued presence in the blood, plasmablasts are not found in the lungs of deceased COVID-19 patients, nor does patient IgA2 binds to the dominant antigens of SARS-CoV-2. Our results thus suggest that, in severe COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 triggers a chronic immune reaction that is instructed by TGF-ß, and is distracted from itself.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Transforming Growth Factor beta/immunology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/virology , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin A/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Interleukins/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , Plasma Cells/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
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