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1.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.03.21266112

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 has been associated with many neurological complications including stroke, delirium and encephalitis. Furthermore, many individuals experience a protracted post-viral syndrome which is dominated by neuropsychiatric symptoms, and is seemingly unrelated to COVID-19 severity. The true frequency and underlying mechanisms of neurological injury are unknown, but exaggerated host inflammatory responses appear to be a key driver of severe COVID-19 more broadly. We sought to investigate the dynamics of, and relationship between, serum markers of brain injury (neurofilament light [NfL], Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein [GFAP] and total Tau) and markers of dysregulated host response including measures of autoinflammation (proinflammatory cytokines) and autoimmunity. Brain injury biomarkers were measured using the Quanterix Simoa HDx platform, cytokine profiling by Luminex (R&D) and autoantibodies by a custom protein microarray. During hospitalisation, patients with COVID-19 demonstrated elevations of NfL and GFAP in a severity-dependant manner, and there was evidence of ongoing active brain injury at follow-up 4 months later. Raised NfL and GFAP were associated with both elevations of pro-inflammatory cytokines and the presence of autoantibodies; autoantibodies were commonly seen against lung surfactant proteins as well as brain proteins such as myelin associated glycoprotein, but reactivity was seen to a large number of different antigens. Furthermore, a distinct process characterised by elevation of serum total Tau was seen in patients at follow-up, which appeared to be independent of initial disease severity and was not associated with dysregulated immune responses in the same manner as NfL and GFAP.

2.
researchsquare; 2021.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-RESEARCHSQUARE | ID: ppzbmed-10.21203.rs.3.rs-428630.v1

ABSTRACT

Vaccines remain the cornerstone for containing the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. mRNA vaccines provide protection in clinical trials using a two-dose approach, separated by a three to four week gap. UK policy in 2021 is to extend the dosing interval from three to twelve weeks and other countries are likely to follow suit given the demand for mRNA vaccines and ongoing uncontrolled transmission. There is a paucity of data in the elderly, even though these individuals are the first to receive vaccines due to risk of severe disease. Here we assessed real world immune responses following vaccination with mRNA-based vaccine BNT162b2. Median age was 81 years amongst 101 participants after the first dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine. Geometric mean neutralisation titres in participants over 80 years old after the first dose were lower than in younger individuals [83.4 (95% CI 52.0-133.7) vs 46.6 (95% CI 33.5-64.8) p 0.01]. A lower proportion of participants 80 years and older achieved adequate neutralisation titre of >1:20 for 50% neutralisation as compared to those under 80 (21% vs 51%, p 0.003). Binding IgG responses correlated with neutralisation. Sera from participants in both age groups showed significantly lower neutralisation potency against B.1.1.7 Spike pseudotyped viruses as compared to wild type. The adjusted ORs for inadequate neutralisation in the 80 years and above age group were 3.7 (95% CI 1.2-11.2) and 4.4 (95% CI 1.5-12.6) against wild type and B.1.1.7 pseudotyped viruses. We observed a trend towards lower somatic hypermutation in participants with suboptimal neutralisation, and elderly participants demonstrated clear reduction in class switched somatic hypermutation, driven by the IgA1/2 isotype. SARS-CoV-2 Spike specific T- cell IFN𝛾 and IL-2 responses were impaired in the older age group after 1 dose and although IFN𝛾 increased between vaccine doses, IL-2 responses did not significantly increase. There was a significantly higher risk of suboptimal neutralising antibody and T cell response following first dose vaccination with BNT162b2 in half of participants above the age of 80, persisting up to 12 weeks. These high risk populations warrant specific measures in order to mitigate against vaccine failure, particularly where SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern are circulating.

3.
researchsquare; 2021.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-RESEARCHSQUARE | ID: ppzbmed-10.21203.rs.3.rs-310411.v1

ABSTRACT

Background: Elevated levels of interferon-gamma (IFNγ) have been found in COVID-19 infection, however its role in this setting remains poorly understood. Cases of non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infections due to anti-IFNγ autoantibodies (Ab) were first reported in 2004. NTM and COVID-19 co-infection in a patient with acquired IFNγ deficiency has not previously been described. The impact of anti-IFNγ Ab on the severity of COVID-19 has not been previously explored. Objective: We report a case of COVID-19 infection in a patient hospitalised with NTM infection due to acquired IFNγ deficiency caused by anti-IFNγ Ab. We also explore effects of IFNγ Ab on the severity of COVID-19 infection. Methods: : Detailed immunological investigations were performed. Bio-rad, Bio-Plex methodology was used to detect anti-IFNγ Ab, titration, IFNγ recovery assay and SARS-CoV-2 serology. Anti-IFNγ Ab were tested in patients with severe (COV-Pat) and health care workers with mild/asymptomatic COVID-19 infection (COV-Asx). Results: : Mycobacterium avium intracellulare was diagnosed following bone marrow examination and culture. High titre anti-IFNγ Ab were detected in patient’s serum. The autoantibodies neutralized both endogenously produced and exogenously administered IFNγ. SARS-COV-2 infection was identified during routine inpatient testing. Despite prolonged SARS-COV-2 infection the patient showed only minimal additional symptoms, never developed any significant inflammatory complications and eventually mounted an adequate IgG antibody response to the SARS-COV-2 trimeric S-protein. Elevated titres of anti-IFNγ Ab were detected in COV-Pat and COV-Asx, compared to non-infected healthy controls. The titres were broadly similar between COV-Pat and COV-Asx groups, but much lower compared to patients with acquired IFNγ Ab deficiency. Conclusion: IFN-γ is known to play a central role in hyperinflammatory disease states such as macrophage activation syndrome This study illustrates the potential value of inhibiting IFNγ to prevent pathological inflammatory response to COVID-19.

4.
ssrn; 2021.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-SSRN | ID: ppzbmed-10.2139.ssrn.3782450

ABSTRACT

Background: Vaccines remain the cornerstone for containing the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. mRNA vaccines provide protection in clinical trials using a two-dose approach, separated by a three to four week gap. UK policy in 2021 is to extend the dosing interval from three to twelve weeks. There is a paucity of data in the elderly, even though these individuals are the first to receive vaccines due to risk of severe disease. Here we assessed real world immune responses following vaccination with mRNA-based vaccine BNT162b2.Methods: We did a prospective cohort study of individuals presenting for first dose vaccination. Following the first and second doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine, we measured IFNγ T cell responses, as well as binding antibody (IgA, IgG and IgG1-4) responses to Spike and Spike RBD. We also measured neutralising antibody responses to Spike in sera using a lentiviral pseudotyping system. We correlated age with immune responses and compared responses after the first and second doses.Findings: Median age was 63.5 years amongst 42 participants. Three weeks after the first dose a lower proportion of participants over 80 years old achieved adequate neutralisation titre of >1:20 for 50% neutralisation as compared to those under 80 (8/17 versus 19/24, p=0.03). Geometric mean neutralisation titres in this age group after the first dose were lower than in younger individuals (p<0.001). Binding IgA and IgG1 and 3 responses developed post vaccination, as observed in natural infection. T- cell responses were not different in those above or below 80 years. Following the second dose, 50% neutralising antibody titres were above 1:20 in all individuals and there was no longer a difference by age grouping.Interpretation: A high proportion of individuals above the age of 80 have suboptimal neutralising antibody responses following first dose vaccination with BNT162b2, cautioning against extending the dosing interval in this high risk population.Funding Statement: RKG is supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship in Clinical Science (WT108082AIA). DAC is supported by a Wellcome Trust Clinical PhD Research Fellowship. KGCS is the recipient of a Wellcome Investigator Award (200871/Z/16/Z). This research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit (CCTU), the NIHR BioResource and Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust. JAGB is supported by the Medical Research Council (MC_UP_1201/16). IATM is funded by a SANTHE award.Declaration of Interests: None to declare. Ethics Approval Statement: The study was approved by the East of England – Cambridge Central Research Ethics Committee (17/EE/0025).

5.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.02.03.21251054

ABSTRACT

Two dose mRNA vaccination provides excellent protection against SARS-CoV-2. However, there are few data on vaccine efficacy in elderly individuals above the age of 801. Additionally, new variants of concern (VOC) with reduced sensitivity to neutralising antibodies have raised fears for vulnerable groups. Here we assessed humoral and cellular immune responses following vaccination with mRNA vaccine BNT162b22 in elderly participants prospectively recruited from the community and younger health care workers. Median age was 72 years and 51% were females amongst 140 participants. Neutralising antibody responses after the first vaccine dose diminished with increasing age, with a marked drop in participants over 80 years old. Sera from participants below and above 80 showed significantly lower neutralisation potency against B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1. variants of concern as compared to wild type. Those over 80 were more likely to lack any neutralisation against VOC compared to younger participants following first dose. The adjusted odds ratio for inadequate neutralisation activity against the B.1.1.7, P.1 and B.1.351 variant in the older versus younger age group was 4.3 (95% CI 2.0-9.3, p<0.001), 6.7 (95% CI 1.7-26.3, p=0.008) and 1.7 (95% CI 0.5-5.7, p=0.41). Binding IgG and IgA antibodies were lower in the elderly, as was the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 Spike specific B-memory cells. We observed a trend towards lower somatic hypermutation in participants with suboptimal neutralisation, and elderly participants demonstrated clear reduction in class switched somatic hypermutation, driven by the IgA1/2 isotype. SARS-CoV-2 Spike specific T-cell IFN{gamma} and IL-2 responses fell with increasing age, and both cytokines were secreted primarily by CD4 T cells. We conclude that the elderly are a high risk population that warrant specific measures in order to mitigate against vaccine failure, particularly where variants of concern are circulating.

6.
researchsquare; 2021.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-RESEARCHSQUARE | ID: ppzbmed-10.21203.rs.3.rs-156101.v1

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 transmission is uncontrolled in many parts of the world, compounded in some areas by higher transmission potential of the B1.1.7 variant now seen in 50 countries. It is unclear whether responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines based on the prototypic strain will be impacted by mutations found in B.1.1.7. Here we assessed immune responses following vaccination with mRNA-based vaccine BNT162b2. We measured neutralising antibody responses following a single immunization using pseudoviruses expressing the wild-type Spike protein or the 8 mutations found in the B.1.1.7 Spike protein. The vaccine sera exhibited a broad range of neutralizing titres against the wild-type pseudoviruses (<1:4 to 3449) that were reduced against B.1.1.7 variant by 3.85 fold (IQR 2.68-5.28). This reduction was also evident in sera from some convalescent patients. Decreased B.1.1.7 neutralization was also observed with monoclonal antibodies targeting the N-terminal domain (9 out of 10), the Receptor Binding Motif (RBM) (5 outof 29), but not in neutralizing mAbs binding outside the RBM. Introduction of the E484K mutation in a B.1.1.7 background led to a further loss of neutralizing activity by vaccine-elicited antibodies over that conferred by the B.1.1.7 mutations alone. Further work is needed to establish the impact of these observations on protective vaccine efficacy in the context of the evolving B.1.1.7 lineage that will likely acquire E484K.

7.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.19.21249840

ABSTRACT

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission is uncontrolled in many parts of the world, compounded in some areas by higher transmission potential of the B1.1.7 variant now seen in 50 countries. It is unclear whether responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines based on the prototypic strain will be impacted by mutations found in B.1.1.7. Here we assessed immune responses following vaccination with mRNA-based vaccine BNT162b2. We measured neutralising antibody responses following a single immunization using pseudoviruses expressing the wild-type Spike protein or the 8 amino acid mutations found in the B.1.1.7 spike protein. The vaccine sera exhibited a broad range of neutralising titres against the wild-type pseudoviruses that were modestly reduced against B.1.1.7 variant. This reduction was also evident in sera from some convalescent patients. Decreased B.1.1.7 neutralisation was also observed with monoclonal antibodies targeting the N-terminal domain (9 out of 10), the Receptor Binding Motif (RBM) (5 out of 31), but not in neutralising mAbs binding outside the RBM. Introduction of the E484K mutation in a B.1.1.7 background to reflect newly emerging viruses in the UK led to a more substantial loss of neutralising activity by vaccine-elicited antibodies and mAbs (19 out of 31) over that conferred by the B.1.1.7 mutations alone. E484K emergence on a B.1.1.7 background represents a threat to the vaccine BNT162b.

8.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.05.20241927

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein is critical for virus infection via engagement of ACE2, and amino acid variation in Spike is increasingly appreciated. Given both vaccines and therapeutics are designed around Wuhan-1 Spike, this raises the theoretical possibility of virus escape, particularly in immunocompromised individuals where prolonged viral replication occurs. Here we report chronic SARS-CoV-2 with reduced sensitivity to neutralising antibodies in an immune suppressed individual treated with convalescent plasma, generating whole genome ultradeep sequences by both short and long read technologies over 23 time points spanning 101 days. Although little change was observed in the overall viral population structure following two courses of remdesivir over the first 57 days, N501Y in Spike was transiently detected at day 55 and V157L in RdRp emerged. However, following convalescent plasma we observed large, dynamic virus population shifts, with the emergence of a dominant viral strain bearing D796H in S2 and{Delta} H69/{Delta}V70 in the S1 N-terminal domain NTD of the Spike protein. As passively transferred serum antibodies diminished, viruses with the escape genotype diminished in frequency, before returning during a final, unsuccessful course of convalescent plasma. In vitro, the Spike escape double mutant bearing{Delta} H69/{Delta}V70 and D796H conferred decreased sensitivity to convalescent plasma, whilst maintaining infectivity similar to wild type. D796H appeared to be the main contributor to decreased susceptibility, but incurred an infectivity defect. The{Delta} H69/{Delta}V70 single mutant had two-fold higher infectivity compared to wild type and appeared to compensate for the reduced infectivity of D796H. Consistent with the observed mutations being outside the RBD, monoclonal antibodies targeting the RBD were not impacted by either or both mutations, but a non RBD binding monoclonal antibody was less potent against{Delta} H69/{Delta}V70 and the double mutant. These data reveal strong selection on SARS-CoV-2 during convalescent plasma therapy associated with emergence of viral variants with reduced susceptibility to neutralising antibodies.

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