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Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(4)2022 Mar 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1822452


Emergent SARS-CoV-2 variants and waning humoral immunity in vaccinated individuals have resulted in increased infections and hospitalizations. Children are not spared from infection nor complications of COVID-19, and the recent recommendation for boosters in individuals ages 12 years or older calls for broader understanding of the adolescent immune profile after mRNA vaccination. We tested the durability and cross-reactivity of anti-SARS-CoV-2 serologic responses over a six-month time course in vaccinated adolescents against the SARS-CoV-2 D614G ("wild type") and Omicron antigens. Serum from 77 adolescents showed that anti-Spike antibodies wane significantly over six months. After completion of a two-vaccine series, cross-reactivity against Omicron-specific receptor-binding domain (RBD) was seen. Functional humoral activation against wild type and Omicron SARS-CoV-2 also declines over time in vaccinated adolescent children. Evidence of waning mRNA-induced vaccine immunity underscores vulnerabilities in long-term pediatric protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection, while cross-reactivity highlights the additional benefits of vaccination. Characterization of adolescent immune signatures post-vaccination will inform guidance on vaccine platforms and timelines, and ultimately optimize immunoprotection of children.

Elife ; 112022 Mar 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1742931


Background: Risk of severe COVID-19 increases with age, is greater in males, and is associated with lymphopenia, but not with higher burden of SARS-CoV-2. It is unknown whether effects of age and sex on abundance of specific lymphoid subsets explain these correlations. Methods: Multiple regression was used to determine the relationship between abundance of specific blood lymphoid cell types, age, sex, requirement for hospitalization, duration of hospitalization, and elevation of blood markers of systemic inflammation, in adults hospitalized for severe COVID-19 (n = 40), treated for COVID-19 as outpatients (n = 51), and in uninfected controls (n = 86), as well as in children with COVID-19 (n = 19), recovering from COVID-19 (n = 14), MIS-C (n = 11), recovering from MIS-C (n = 7), and pediatric controls (n = 17). Results: This observational study found that the abundance of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) decreases more than 7-fold over the human lifespan - T cell subsets decrease less than 2-fold - and is lower in males than in females. After accounting for effects of age and sex, ILCs, but not T cells, were lower in adults hospitalized with COVID-19, independent of lymphopenia. Among SARS-CoV-2-infected adults, the abundance of ILCs, but not of T cells, correlated inversely with odds and duration of hospitalization, and with severity of inflammation. ILCs were also uniquely decreased in pediatric COVID-19 and the numbers of these cells did not recover during follow-up. In contrast, children with MIS-C had depletion of both ILCs and T cells, and both cell types increased during follow-up. In both pediatric COVID-19 and MIS-C, ILC abundance correlated inversely with inflammation. Blood ILC mRNA and phenotype tracked closely with ILCs from lung. Importantly, blood ILCs produced amphiregulin, a protein implicated in disease tolerance and tissue homeostasis. Among controls, the percentage of ILCs that produced amphiregulin was higher in females than in males, and people hospitalized with COVID-19 had a lower percentage of ILCs that produced amphiregulin than did controls. Conclusions: These results suggest that, by promoting disease tolerance, homeostatic ILCs decrease morbidity and mortality associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that lower ILC abundance contributes to increased COVID-19 severity with age and in males. Funding: This work was supported in part by the Massachusetts Consortium for Pathogen Readiness and NIH grants R37AI147868, R01AI148784, F30HD100110, 5K08HL143183.

COVID-19 , Lymphopenia , Amphiregulin , COVID-19/complications , Child , Female , Humans , Immunity, Innate , Inflammation , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome , T-Lymphocyte Subsets
J Clin Invest ; 131(14)2021 07 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1311202


BACKGROUNDWeeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection or exposure, some children develop a severe, life-threatening illness called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are common in patients with MIS-C, and a severe hyperinflammatory response ensues with potential for cardiac complications. The cause of MIS-C has not been identified to date.METHODSHere, we analyzed biospecimens from 100 children: 19 with MIS-C, 26 with acute COVID-19, and 55 controls. Stools were assessed for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR), and plasma was examined for markers of breakdown of mucosal barrier integrity, including zonulin. Ultrasensitive antigen detection was used to probe for SARS-CoV-2 antigenemia in plasma, and immune responses were characterized. As a proof of concept, we treated a patient with MIS-C with larazotide, a zonulin antagonist, and monitored the effect on antigenemia and the patient's clinical response.RESULTSWe showed that in children with MIS-C, a prolonged presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the GI tract led to the release of zonulin, a biomarker of intestinal permeability, with subsequent trafficking of SARS-CoV-2 antigens into the bloodstream, leading to hyperinflammation. The patient with MIS-C treated with larazotide had a coinciding decrease in plasma SARS-CoV-2 spike antigen levels and inflammatory markers and a resultant clinical improvement above that achieved with currently available treatments.CONCLUSIONThese mechanistic data on MIS-C pathogenesis provide insight into targets for diagnosing, treating, and preventing MIS-C, which are urgently needed for this increasingly common severe COVID-19-related disease in children.

COVID-19/etiology , COVID-19/physiopathology , Haptoglobins/physiology , Intestinal Mucosa/physiopathology , Protein Precursors/physiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome/etiology , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome/physiopathology , Adolescent , Antigens, Viral/blood , Biomarkers/blood , COVID-19/virology , Case-Control Studies , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Haptoglobins/antagonists & inhibitors , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Intestinal Mucosa/drug effects , Intestinal Mucosa/virology , Male , Oligopeptides/pharmacology , Permeability/drug effects , Proof of Concept Study , Protein Precursors/antagonists & inhibitors , Protein Precursors/blood , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/blood , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome/virology , Young Adult