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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-336734

ABSTRACT

Background COVID-19 has been a major public health threat for the past two years, with disproportionate effects on the elderly, immunocompromised, and pregnant women. While much has been done in delineating immune dysfunctions and pathogenesis in the former two groups, less is known about the disease’s progression in expectant women and children born to them. To address this knowledge gap, we profiled the immune responses in maternal and child sera as well as breast milk in terms of antibody and cytokine expression and performed histopathological studies on placentae obtained from mothers convalescent from antenatal COVID-19. Methods and findings A total of 17 mother-child dyads (8 cases of antenatal COVID-19 and 9 healthy unrelated controls;34 individuals in total) were recruited to the Gestational Immunity For Transfer (GIFT) study. Maternal and infant sera, and breast milk samples were collected over the first year of life. All samples were analyzed for IgG and IgA against whole SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the spike receptor-binding domain (RBD), and previously reported immunodominant epitopes, with conventional ELISA approaches. Cytokine levels were quantified in maternal sera using multiplex microbead-based Luminex arrays. The placentae were examined microscopically. We found high levels of virus-specific IgG in convalescent mothers and similarly elevated titers in newborn children. Virus-specific IgG in infant circulation waned within 3-6 months of life. Virus-specific IgA levels were variable among convalescent individuals’ sera and breast milk. Convalescent mothers also showed a blood cytokine signature indicative of a persistent pro-inflammatory state. Four placentae presented signs of acute inflammation marked by neutrophil infiltration even though >50 days had elapsed between virus clearance and delivery. Administration of a single dose of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine to mothers convalescent from antenatal COVID-19 increased virus-specific IgG and IgA titers in breast milk. Conclusions Antenatal SARS-CoV-2 infection led to high plasma titres of virus-specific antibodies in infants postnatally. However, this was not reflected in milk;milk-borne antibody levels varied widely. Additionally, placentae from COVID-19 positive mothers exhibited signs of acute inflammation with neutrophilic involvement, particularly in the subchorionic region. Virus neutralisation by plasma was not uniformly achieved, and the presence of antibodies targeting known immunodominant epitopes did not assure neutralisation. Antibody transfer ratios and the decay of transplacentally transferred virus-specific antibodies in neonatal circulation resembled that for other pathogens. Convalescent mothers showed signs of chronic inflammation marked by persistently elevated IL17RA levels in their blood. A single dose of the Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine provided significant boosts to milk-borne virus-specific antibodies, highlighting the importance of receiving the vaccine even after natural infection with the added benefit of enhanced passive immunity. The study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov under the identifier NCT04802278 .

2.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(2)2022 Jan 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1667380

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody responses are engendered in human milk after BNT162b2 vaccination. However, the emergence of variants of concern (VOCs) raises concerns about the specificity of and potential cross-protection mediated by milk antibody responses, which are crucial for passive immunity transferred from breastfeeding mothers to their infants. In this study, we collected milk samples at three different time points pre- and post-vaccination, and measured milk IgA antibody binding to the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the original Wuhan-Hu-1 strain, and the four VOCs, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. We report a significant level of anti-RBD IgA in milk collected at 4-6 weeks after the second dose of vaccination compared to pre-vaccination. We observed around a 30% reduction in binding to most VOCs, including the major circulating Delta variant, compared to the original Wuhan-Hu-1 strain. As COVID-19 vaccines may take some time to be approved for infants, these individuals remain at risk for severe disease and rely mainly on transferred passive immunity. Our findings support the current recommendations for vaccinating lactating women with the aim of transferring mucosal immunity to breastfeeding infants.

3.
Front Immunol ; 12: 710217, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1555700

ABSTRACT

Severe SARS-CoV-2 infection can trigger uncontrolled innate and adaptive immune responses, which are commonly associated with lymphopenia and increased neutrophil counts. However, whether the immune abnormalities observed in mild to severely infected patients persist into convalescence remains unclear. Herein, comparisons were drawn between the immune responses of COVID-19 infected and convalescent adults. Strikingly, survivors of severe COVID-19 had decreased proportions of NKT and Vδ2 T cells, and increased proportions of low-density neutrophils, IgA+/CD86+/CD123+ non-classical monocytes and hyperactivated HLADR+CD38+ CD8+ T cells, and elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as hepatocyte growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor A, long after virus clearance. Our study suggests potential immune correlates of "long COVID-19", and defines key cells and cytokines that delineate true and quasi-convalescent states.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/complications , Cohort Studies , Convalescence , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged
4.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295347

ABSTRACT

We detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 specific IgA against all major VOCs in milk out to 6 weeks after D2 of BNT162b2. These likely confer some protection to the breastfed infants, who are ineligible for vaccination and are at risk of severe COVID-19. However, we detected significantly reduced milk IgA binding to VOCs, including the globally dominant Delta variant, suggesting reduced protection for breastfeeding infants. Additionally, these antibodies were significantly reduced by as early as 4-6 weeks after D2.

5.
NPJ Vaccines ; 6(1): 105, 2021 Aug 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1366818

ABSTRACT

Lactating women can produce protective antibodies in their milk after vaccination, which has informed antenatal vaccination programs for diseases such as influenza and pertussis. However, whether SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies are produced in human milk as a result of COVID-19 vaccination is still unclear. In this study, we show that lactating mothers who received the BNT162b2 vaccine secreted SARS-CoV-2-specific IgA and IgG antibodies into milk, with the most significant increase at 3-7 days post-dose 2. Virus-specific IgG titers were stable out to 4-6 weeks after dose 2. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2-specific IgA levels showed substantial decay. Vaccine mRNA was detected in few milk samples (maximum of 2 ng/ml), indicative of minimal transfer. Additionally, infants who consumed post-vaccination human milk had no reported adverse effects up to 28 days post-ingestion. Our results define the safety and efficacy profiles of the vaccine in this demographic and provide initial evidence for protective immunity conferred by milk-borne SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies. Taken together, our study supports recommendations for uninterrupted breastfeeding subsequent to mRNA vaccination against COVID-19.

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