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1.
J Clin Invest ; 2021 Nov 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541976

ABSTRACT

Memory B cells (MBC) can provide a recall response able to supplement waning antibodies with an affinity-matured response better able to neutralise variant viruses. We studied a cohort of elderly care home residents and younger staff (median age 87yrs and 56yrs respectively) who had survived COVID-19 outbreaks with only mild/asymptomatic infection. The cohort was selected to enrich for a high proportion who had lost neutralising antibodies (nAb), to specifically investigate the reserve immunity from SARS-CoV-2-specific MBC in this setting. Class-switched spike and RBD-tetramer-binding MBC persisted five months post-mild/asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, irrespective of age. The majority of spike/RBD-specific MBC had a classical phenotype but activated memory B cells, that may indicate ongoing antigenic stimulation or inflammation, were expanded in the elderly. Spike/RBD-specific MBC remained detectable in the majority who had lost nAb, although at lower frequencies and with a reduced IgG/IgA isotype ratio. Functional spike/S1/RBD-specific recall was also detectable by ELISpot in some who had lost nAb, but was significantly impaired in the elderly. Our findings demonstrate a reserve of SARS-CoV-2-specific MBC persists beyond loss of nAb, but highlight the need for careful monitoring of functional defects in spike/RBD-specific B cell immunity in the elderly.

2.
Nature ; 2021 Nov 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1510600

ABSTRACT

Individuals with potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 do not necessarily develop PCR or antibody positivity, suggesting some may clear sub-clinical infection before seroconversion. T-cells can contribute to the rapid clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections1-3. We hypothesised that pre-existing memory T-cell responses, with cross-protective potential against SARS-CoV-24-11, would expand in vivo to support rapid viral control, aborting infection. We measured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T-cells, including those against the early transcribed replication transcription complex (RTC)12,13, in intensively monitored healthcare workers (HCW) remaining repeatedly negative by PCR, antibody binding, and neutralisation (seronegative HCW, SN-HCW). SN-HCW had stronger, more multispecific memory T-cells than an unexposed pre-pandemic cohort, and more frequently directed against the RTC than the structural protein-dominated responses seen post-detectable infection (matched concurrent cohort). SN-HCW with the strongest RTC-specific T-cells had an increase in IFI27, a robust early innate signature of SARS-CoV-214, suggesting abortive infection. RNA-polymerase within RTC was the largest region of high sequence conservation across human seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV) and SARS-CoV-2 clades. RNA-polymerase was preferentially targeted (amongst regions tested) by T-cells from pre-pandemic cohorts and SN-HCW. RTC epitope-specific T-cells cross-recognising HCoV variants were identified in SN-HCW. Enriched pre-existing RNA-polymerase-specific T-cells expanded in vivo to preferentially accumulate in the memory response after putative abortive compared to overt SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data highlight RTC-specific T-cells as targets for vaccines against endemic and emerging Coronaviridae.

3.
iScience ; 24(11): 103353, 2021 Nov 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1509904

ABSTRACT

We identify amino acid variants within dominant SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes by interrogating global sequence data. Several variants within nucleocapsid and ORF3a epitopes have arisen independently in multiple lineages and result in loss of recognition by epitope-specific T cells assessed by IFN-γ and cytotoxic killing assays. Complete loss of T cell responsiveness was seen due to Q213K in the A∗01:01-restricted CD8+ ORF3a epitope FTSDYYQLY207-215; due to P13L, P13S, and P13T in the B∗27:05-restricted CD8+ nucleocapsid epitope QRNAPRITF9-17; and due to T362I and P365S in the A∗03:01/A∗11:01-restricted CD8+ nucleocapsid epitope KTFPPTEPK361-369. CD8+ T cell lines unable to recognize variant epitopes have diverse T cell receptor repertoires. These data demonstrate the potential for T cell evasion and highlight the need for ongoing surveillance for variants capable of escaping T cell as well as humoral immunity.

4.
Lancet Microbe ; 2(10): e508-e517, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1475189

ABSTRACT

Background: We hypothesised that host-response biomarkers of viral infections might contribute to early identification of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is critical to breaking the chains of transmission. We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of existing candidate whole-blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection to predict positivity of nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing. Methods: We did a nested case-control diagnostic accuracy study among a prospective cohort of health-care workers (aged ≥18 years) at St Bartholomew's Hospital (London, UK) undergoing weekly blood and nasopharyngeal swab sampling for whole-blood RNA sequencing and SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, when fit to attend work. We identified candidate blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection through a systematic literature search. We searched MEDLINE for articles published between database inception and Oct 12, 2020, using comprehensive MeSH and keyword terms for "viral infection", "transcriptome", "biomarker", and "blood". We reconstructed signature scores in blood RNA sequencing data and evaluated their diagnostic accuracy for contemporaneous SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with the gold standard of SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, by quantifying the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC), sensitivities, and specificities at a standardised Z score of at least 2 based on the distribution of signature scores in test-negative controls. We used pairwise DeLong tests compared with the most discriminating signature to identify the subset of best performing biomarkers. We evaluated associations between signature expression, viral load (using PCR cycle thresholds), and symptom status visually and using Spearman rank correlation. The primary outcome was the AUROC for discriminating between samples from participants who tested negative throughout the study (test-negative controls) and samples from participants with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (test-positive participants) during their first week of PCR positivity. Findings: We identified 20 candidate blood transcriptomic signatures of viral infection from 18 studies and evaluated their accuracy among 169 blood RNA samples from 96 participants over 24 weeks. Participants were recruited between March 23 and March 31, 2020. 114 samples were from 41 participants with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and 55 samples were from 55 test-negative controls. The median age of participants was 36 years (IQR 27-47) and 69 (72%) of 96 were women. Signatures had little overlap of component genes, but were mostly correlated as components of type I interferon responses. A single blood transcript for IFI27 provided the highest accuracy for discriminating between test-negative controls and test-positive individuals at the time of their first positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR result, with AUROC of 0·95 (95% CI 0·91-0·99), sensitivity 0·84 (0·70-0·93), and specificity 0·95 (0·85-0·98) at a predefined threshold (Z score >2). The transcript performed equally well in individuals with and without symptoms. Three other candidate signatures (including two to 48 transcripts) had statistically equivalent discrimination to IFI27 (AUROCs 0·91-0·95). Interpretation: Our findings support further urgent evaluation and development of blood IFI27 transcripts as a biomarker for early phase SARS-CoV-2 infection for screening individuals at high risk of infection, such as contacts of index cases, to facilitate early case isolation and early use of antiviral treatments as they emerge. Funding: Barts Charity, Wellcome Trust, and National Institute of Health Research.

5.
Lancet Microbe ; 2(10): e508-e517, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305340

ABSTRACT

Background: We hypothesised that host-response biomarkers of viral infections might contribute to early identification of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is critical to breaking the chains of transmission. We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of existing candidate whole-blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection to predict positivity of nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing. Methods: We did a nested case-control diagnostic accuracy study among a prospective cohort of health-care workers (aged ≥18 years) at St Bartholomew's Hospital (London, UK) undergoing weekly blood and nasopharyngeal swab sampling for whole-blood RNA sequencing and SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, when fit to attend work. We identified candidate blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection through a systematic literature search. We searched MEDLINE for articles published between database inception and Oct 12, 2020, using comprehensive MeSH and keyword terms for "viral infection", "transcriptome", "biomarker", and "blood". We reconstructed signature scores in blood RNA sequencing data and evaluated their diagnostic accuracy for contemporaneous SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with the gold standard of SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, by quantifying the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC), sensitivities, and specificities at a standardised Z score of at least 2 based on the distribution of signature scores in test-negative controls. We used pairwise DeLong tests compared with the most discriminating signature to identify the subset of best performing biomarkers. We evaluated associations between signature expression, viral load (using PCR cycle thresholds), and symptom status visually and using Spearman rank correlation. The primary outcome was the AUROC for discriminating between samples from participants who tested negative throughout the study (test-negative controls) and samples from participants with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (test-positive participants) during their first week of PCR positivity. Findings: We identified 20 candidate blood transcriptomic signatures of viral infection from 18 studies and evaluated their accuracy among 169 blood RNA samples from 96 participants over 24 weeks. Participants were recruited between March 23 and March 31, 2020. 114 samples were from 41 participants with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and 55 samples were from 55 test-negative controls. The median age of participants was 36 years (IQR 27-47) and 69 (72%) of 96 were women. Signatures had little overlap of component genes, but were mostly correlated as components of type I interferon responses. A single blood transcript for IFI27 provided the highest accuracy for discriminating between test-negative controls and test-positive individuals at the time of their first positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR result, with AUROC of 0·95 (95% CI 0·91-0·99), sensitivity 0·84 (0·70-0·93), and specificity 0·95 (0·85-0·98) at a predefined threshold (Z score >2). The transcript performed equally well in individuals with and without symptoms. Three other candidate signatures (including two to 48 transcripts) had statistically equivalent discrimination to IFI27 (AUROCs 0·91-0·95). Interpretation: Our findings support further urgent evaluation and development of blood IFI27 transcripts as a biomarker for early phase SARS-CoV-2 infection for screening individuals at high risk of infection, such as contacts of index cases, to facilitate early case isolation and early use of antiviral treatments as they emerge. Funding: Barts Charity, Wellcome Trust, and National Institute of Health Research.

6.
Science ; 2021 Apr 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1209815

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 vaccine rollout has coincided with the spread of variants of concern. We investigated if single dose vaccination, with or without prior infection, confers cross protective immunity to variants. We analyzed T and B cell responses after first dose vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 in healthcare workers (HCW) followed longitudinally, with or without prior Wuhan-Hu-1 SARS-CoV-2 infection. After one dose, individuals with prior infection showed enhanced T cell immunity, antibody secreting memory B cell response to spike and neutralizing antibodies effective against B.1.1.7 and B.1.351. By comparison, HCW receiving one vaccine dose without prior infection showed reduced immunity against variants. B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 spike mutations resulted in increased, abrogated or unchanged T cell responses depending on human leukocyte antigen (HLA) polymorphisms. Single dose vaccination with BNT162b2 in the context of prior infection with a heterologous variant substantially enhances neutralizing antibody responses against variants.

7.
Immunol Rev ; 299(1): 108-117, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1072592

ABSTRACT

Humoral immunity is a critical component of the coordinated response required to resolve viral infections and mediate protection following pathogen clearance or vaccination. A better understanding of factors shaping the memory B cell response will allow tailored development of efficient preventative vaccines against emerging acute viral infections, therapeutic vaccines, and immunotherapies for chronic viral infections. Here, we use recent data obtained by profiling antigen-specific B cell responses in hepatitis B as a framework to explore lessons that can be learnt from different viral infections about the diverse influences on humoral immunity. Hepatitis B provides a paradigm where successful B cell responses in resolved or vaccinated individuals can be contrasted to the failed response in chronic infection, while also exemplifying the degree to which B cell responses within infected individuals can differ to two antigens from the same virus. Drawing on studies in other human and murine infections, including emerging data from COVID-19, we consider the influence of antigen quantity and structure on the quality of the B cell response, the role of differential CD4 help, the importance of germinal center vs extrafollicular responses and the emerging concept that responses residing in non-lymphoid organs can participate in B cell memory.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , B-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Hepatitis B virus/physiology , Hepatitis B/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer/immunology , Antibody Formation , Antigens, Viral/immunology , Humans , Immunity, Humoral , Immunodominant Epitopes/immunology , Immunologic Memory
8.
Sci Immunol ; 5(54)2020 12 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-999191

ABSTRACT

Understanding the nature of immunity following mild/asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2 is crucial to controlling the pandemic. We analyzed T cell and neutralizing antibody responses in 136 healthcare workers (HCW) 16-18 weeks after United Kingdom lockdown, 76 of whom had mild/asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection captured by serial sampling. Neutralizing antibodies (nAb) were present in 89% of previously infected HCW. T cell responses tended to be lower following asymptomatic infection than in those reporting case-definition symptoms of COVID-19, while nAb titers were maintained irrespective of symptoms. T cell and antibody responses were sometimes discordant. Eleven percent lacked nAb and had undetectable T cell responses to spike protein but had T cells reactive with other SARS-CoV-2 antigens. Our findings suggest that the majority of individuals with mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection carry nAb complemented by multispecific T cell responses at 16-18 weeks after mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Asymptomatic Infections , COVID-19/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Case-Control Studies , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/immunology
9.
Oxf Open Immunol ; 1(1): iqaa001, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-851863

ABSTRACT

Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrom coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is more likely to lead to poor outcomes in the elderly and those with cardiovascular disease, obesity or metabolic syndrome. Here, we consider mechanisms by which dyslipidaemia and the use of cholesterol-modifying drugs could influence the virus-host relationship. Cholesterol is essential for the assembly, replication and infectivity of enveloped virus particles; we highlight several cholesterol-modifying drugs with the potential to alter the SARS-CoV-2 life cycle that could be tested in in vitro and in vivo models. Although cholesterol is an essential component of immune cell membranes, excess levels can dysregulate protective immunity and promote exaggerated pulmonary and systemic inflammatory responses. Statins block the production of multiple sterols, oxysterols and isoprenoids, resulting in a pleiotropic range of context-dependent effects on virus infectivity, immunity and inflammation. We highlight antiviral, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of cholesterol-modifying drugs that merit further consideration in the management of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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