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Front Immunol ; 12: 748291, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1555236


Precision monitoring of antibody responses during the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly important during large scale vaccine rollout and rise in prevalence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern (VOC). Equally important is defining Correlates of Protection (CoP) for SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease. Data from epidemiological studies and vaccine trials identified virus neutralising antibodies (Nab) and SARS-CoV-2 antigen-specific (notably RBD and S) binding antibodies as candidate CoP. In this study, we used the World Health Organisation (WHO) international standard to benchmark neutralising antibody responses and a large panel of binding antibody assays to compare convalescent sera obtained from: a) COVID-19 patients; b) SARS-CoV-2 seropositive healthcare workers (HCW) and c) seronegative HCW. The ultimate aim of this study is to identify biomarkers of humoral immunity that could be used to differentiate severe from mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. Some of these biomarkers could be used to define CoP in further serological studies using samples from vaccination breakthrough and/or re-infection cases. Whenever suitable, the antibody levels of the samples studied were expressed in International Units (IU) for virus neutralisation assays or in Binding Antibody Units (BAU) for ELISA tests. In this work we used commercial and non-commercial antibody binding assays; a lateral flow test for detection of SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG/IgM; a high throughput multiplexed particle flow cytometry assay for SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S), Nucleocapsid (N) and Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) proteins); a multiplex antigen semi-automated immuno-blotting assay measuring IgM, IgA and IgG; a pseudotyped microneutralisation test (pMN) and an electroporation-dependent neutralisation assay (EDNA). Our results indicate that overall, severe COVID-19 patients showed statistically significantly higher levels of SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralising antibodies (average 1029 IU/ml) than those observed in seropositive HCW with mild or asymptomatic infections (379 IU/ml) and that clinical severity scoring, based on WHO guidelines was tightly correlated with neutralisation and RBD/S antibodies. In addition, there was a positive correlation between severity, N-antibody assays and intracellular virus neutralisation.

J Infect Dis ; 224(8): 1305-1315, 2021 10 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1493821


BACKGROUND: A notable feature of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is that children are less susceptible to severe disease. Children are known to experience more infections with endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) compared to adults. Little is known whether HCoV infections lead to cross-reactive anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies. METHODS: We investigated the presence of cross-reactive anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies to spike 1 (S1), S1-receptor-binding domain (S1-RBD), and nucleocapsid protein (NP) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, and neutralizing activity by a SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus neutralization assay, in prepandemic sera collected from children (n = 50) and adults (n = 45), and compared with serum samples from convalescent COVID-19 patients (n = 16). RESULTS: A significant proportion of children (up to 40%) had detectable cross-reactive antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 S1, S1-RBD, and NP antigens, and the anti-S1 and anti-S1-RBD antibody levels correlated with anti-HCoV-HKU1 and anti-HCoV-OC43 S1 antibody titers in prepandemic samples (P < .001). There were marked increases of anti-HCoV-HKU1 and - OC43 S1 (but not anti-NL63 and -229E S1-RBD) antibody titers in serum samples from convalescent COVID-19 patients (P < .001), indicating an activation of cross-reactive immunological memory to ß-coronavirus spike. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated cross-reactive anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in prepandemic serum samples from children and young adults. Promoting this cross-reactive immunity and memory response derived from common HCoV may be an effective strategy against SARS-COV-2 and future novel coronaviruses.

Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/blood , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/virology , Child , Child, Preschool , Convalescence , Coronavirus 229E, Human/immunology , Coronavirus Envelope Proteins/immunology , Coronavirus OC43, Human/immunology , Cross Reactions , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay , Female , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Immunologic Memory , Male , Middle Aged , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Young Adult
Viruses ; 12(9)2020 09 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-769396


The recent outbreak of a novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its rapid spread across the continents has generated an urgent need for assays to detect the neutralising activity of human sera or human monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and to evaluate the serological immunity in humans. Since the accessibility of live virus microneutralisation (MN) assays with SARS-CoV-2 is limited and requires enhanced bio-containment, the approach based on "pseudotyping" can be considered a useful complement to other serological assays. After fully characterising lentiviral pseudotypes bearing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, we employed them in pseudotype-based neutralisation assays in order to profile the neutralising activity of human serum samples from an Italian sero-epidemiological study. The results obtained with pseudotype-based neutralisation assays mirrored those obtained when the same panel of sera was tested against the wild type virus, showing an evident convergence of the pseudotype-based neutralisation and MN results. The overall results lead to the conclusion that the pseudotype-based neutralisation assay is a valid alternative to using the wild-type strain, and although this system needs to be optimised and standardised, it can not only complement the classical serological methods, but also allows serological assessments to be made when other methods cannot be employed, especially in a human pandemic context.

Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Lentivirus/genetics , Neutralization Tests/methods , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Betacoronavirus/immunology , COVID-19 , Cell Line , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Humans , Immune Sera/immunology , Italy/epidemiology , Plasmids/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/biosynthesis , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/physiology , Transfection , Vesiculovirus/genetics , Viral Load