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1.
mBio ; : e0214121, 2022 Jan 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1650754

ABSTRACT

As public health guidelines throughout the world have relaxed in response to vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2, it is likely that SARS-CoV-2 will remain endemic, fueled by the rise of more infectious SARS-CoV-2 variants. Moreover, in the setting of waning natural and vaccine immunity, reinfections have emerged across the globe, even among previously infected and vaccinated individuals. As such, the ability to detect reexposure to and reinfection by SARS-CoV-2 is a key component for global protection against this virus and, more importantly, against the potential emergence of vaccine escape mutations. Accordingly, there is a strong and continued need for the development and deployment of simple methods to detect emerging hot spots of reinfection to inform targeted pandemic response and containment, including targeted and specific deployment of vaccine booster campaigns. In this study, we identify simple, rapid immune biomarkers of reinfection in rhesus macaques, including IgG3 antibody levels against nucleocapsid and FcγR2A receptor binding activity of anti-RBD antibodies, that are recapitulated in human reinfection cases. As such, this cross-species analysis underscores the potential utility of simple antibody titers and function as price-effective and scalable markers of reinfection to provide increased resolution and resilience against new outbreaks. IMPORTANCE As public health and social distancing guidelines loosen in the setting of waning global natural and vaccine immunity, a deeper understanding of the immunological response to reexposure and reinfection to this highly contagious pathogen is necessary to maintain public health. Viral sequencing analysis provides a robust but unrealistic means to monitor reinfection globally. The identification of scalable pathogen-specific biomarkers of reexposure and reinfection, however, could significantly accelerate our capacity to monitor the spread of the virus through naive and experienced hosts, providing key insights into mechanisms of disease attenuation. Using a nonhuman primate model of controlled SARS-CoV-2 reexposure, we deeply probed the humoral immune response following rechallenge with various doses of viral inocula. We identified virus-specific humoral biomarkers of reinfection, with significant increases in antibody titer and function upon rechallenge across a range of humoral features, including IgG1 to the receptor binding domain of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (RBD), IgG3 to the nucleocapsid protein (N), and FcγR2A receptor binding to anti-RBD antibodies. These features not only differentiated primary infection from reexposure and reinfection in monkeys but also were recapitulated in a sequencing-confirmed reinfection patient and in a cohort of putatively reinfected humans that evolved a PCR-positive test in spite of preexisting seropositivity. As such, this cross-species analysis using a controlled primate model and human cohorts reveals increases in antibody titers as promising cross-validated serological markers of reinfection and reexposure.

2.
PubMed; 2020.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-292772

ABSTRACT

Humoral responses in COVID-19 disease are often of limited durability, as seen with other human coronavirus epidemics. To address the underlying etiology, we examined postmortem thoracic lymph nodes and spleens in acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and observed the absence of germinal centers, a striking reduction in Bcl-6+ germinal center B cells but preservation of AID+ B cells. Absence of germinal centers correlated with an early specific block in Bcl-6+TFH cell differentiation together with an increase in T-bet+TH1 cells and aberrant extra-follicular TNF-a accumulation. Parallel peripheral blood studies revealed loss of transitional and follicular B cells in severe disease and accumulation of SARS-CoV-2-specific "disease-related" B cell populations. These data identify defective Bcl-6+TFH cell generation and dysregulated humoral immune induction early in COVID-19 disease, providing a mechanistic explanation for the limited durability of antibody responses in coronavirus infections and suggest that achieving herd immunity through natural infection may be difficult. Funding: This work was supported by NIH U19 AI110495 to SP, NIH R01 AI146779 to AGS, NIH R01AI137057 and DP2DA042422 to DL, BMH was supported by NIGMS T32 GM007753, TMC was supported by T32 AI007245. Funding for these studies from the Massachusetts Consortium of Pathogen Readiness, the Mark and Lisa Schwartz Foundation and Enid Schwartz is also acknowledged. Conflict of Interest: None. Ethical Approval: This study was performed with the approval of the Institutional Review Boards at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

3.
Viruses ; 13(11)2021 11 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1502534

ABSTRACT

Obesity is a key correlate of severe SARS-CoV-2 outcomes while the role of obesity on risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptom phenotype, and immune response remain poorly defined. We examined data from a prospective SARS-CoV-2 cohort study to address these questions. Serostatus, body mass index, demographics, comorbidities, and prior COVID-19 compatible symptoms were assessed at baseline and serostatus and symptoms monthly thereafter. SARS-CoV-2 immunoassays included an IgG ELISA targeting the spike RBD, multiarray Luminex targeting 20 viral antigens, pseudovirus neutralization, and T cell ELISPOT assays. Our results from a large prospective SARS-CoV-2 cohort study indicate symptom phenotype is strongly influenced by obesity among younger but not older age groups; we did not identify evidence to suggest obese individuals are at higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection; and remarkably homogenous immune activity across BMI categories suggests immune protection across these groups may be similar.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/immunology , Obesity/complications , Obesity/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Age Factors , Body Mass Index , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/physiopathology , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Male , Middle Aged , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Young Adult
4.
Access Microbiol ; 3(7): 000239, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1447703

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Reports of false-negative quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) results from patients with high clinical suspension for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), suggested that a negative result produced by a nucleic acid amplification assays (NAAs) did not always exclude the possibility of COVID-19 infection. Repeat testing has been used by clinicians as a strategy in an to attempt to improve laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 and overcome false-negative results in particular. AIM: To investigate whether repeat testing is helpful for overcoming false-negative results. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed our experience with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing, focusing on the yield of repeat patient testing for improving SARS-CoV-2 detection by NAA. RESULTS: We found that the yield from using repeat testing to identify false-negative patients was low. When the first test produced a negative result, only 6 % of patients tested positive by the second test. The yield decreased to 1.7 and then 0 % after the third and fourth tests, respectively. When comparing the results produced by three assays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) SARS CoV-2 RT-qPCR panel, Xpert Xpress CoV-2 and ID NOW COVID-19, the ID NOW assay was associated with the highest number of patients who tested negative initially but positive on repeat testing. The CDC SARS CoV-2 RT-qPCR panel produced the highest number of indeterminate results. Repeat testing resolved more than 90 % of indeterminate/invalid results. CONCLUSIONS: The yield from using repeat testing to identify false-negative patients was low. Repeat testing was best used for resolving indeterminate/invalid results.

5.
Res Sq ; 2021 Feb 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1417405

ABSTRACT

Recently approved vaccines have already shown remarkable protection in limiting SARS-CoV-2 associated disease. However, immunologic mechanism(s) of protection, as well as how boosting alters immunity to wildtype and newly emerging strains, remain incompletely understood. Here we deeply profiled the humoral immune response in a cohort of non-human primates immunized with a stable recombinant full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein (NVX-CoV2373) at two dose levels, administered as a single or two-dose regimen with a saponin-based adjuvant Matrix-M™. While antigen dose had some effect on Fc-effector profiles, both antigen dose and boosting significantly altered overall titers, neutralization and Fc-effector profiles, driving unique vaccine-induced antibody fingerprints. Combined differences in antibody effector functions and neutralization were strongly associated with distinct levels of protection in the upper and lower respiratory tract, pointing to the presence of combined, but distinct, compartment-specific neutralization and Fc-mechanisms as key determinants of protective immunity against infection. Moreover, NVX-CoV2373 elicited antibodies functionally target emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, collectively pointing to the critical collaborative role for Fab and Fc in driving maximal protection against SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, the data presented here suggest that a single dose may prevent disease, but that two doses may be essential to block further transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants.

6.
Cell Rep Med ; 2(9): 100405, 2021 09 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1377862

ABSTRACT

Recently approved vaccines have shown remarkable efficacy in limiting SARS-CoV-2-associated disease. However, with the variety of vaccines, immunization strategies, and waning antibody titers, defining the correlates of immunity across a spectrum of antibody titers is urgently required. Thus, we profiled the humoral immune response in a cohort of non-human primates immunized with a recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (NVX-CoV2373) at two doses, administered as a single- or two-dose regimen. Both antigen dose and boosting significantly altered neutralization titers and Fc-effector profiles, driving unique vaccine-induced antibody fingerprints. Combined differences in antibody effector functions and neutralization were associated with distinct levels of protection in the upper and lower respiratory tract. Moreover, NVX-CoV2373 elicited antibodies that functionally targeted emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. Collectively, the data presented here suggest that a single dose may prevent disease via combined Fc/Fab functions but that two doses may be essential to block further transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Saponins/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/drug effects , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic , Female , Immunity, Humoral/immunology , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments/immunology , Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments/immunology , Macaca mulatta , Male , Nanoparticles , Primates/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Vaccination
7.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol ; : 1-9, 2021 Aug 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1347903

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To determine the changes in severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) serologic status and SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in healthcare workers (HCWs) over 6-months of follow-up. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: HCWs in the Chicago area. METHODS: Cohort participants were recruited in May and June 2020 for baseline serology testing (Abbott anti-nucleocapsid IgG) and were then invited for follow-up serology testing 6 months later. Participants completed monthly online surveys that assessed demographics, medical history, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and exposures to SARS-CoV-2. The electronic medical record was used to identify SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positivity during follow-up. Serologic conversion and SARS-CoV-2 infection or possible reinfection rates (cases per 10,000 person days) by antibody status at baseline and follow-up were assessed. RESULTS: In total, 6,510 HCWs were followed for a total of 1,285,395 person days (median follow-up, 216 days). For participants who had baseline and follow-up serology checked, 285 (6.1%) of the 4,681 seronegative participants at baseline seroconverted to positive at follow-up; 138 (48%) of the 263 who were seropositive at baseline were seronegative at follow-up. When analyzed by baseline serostatus alone, 519 (8.4%) of 6,194 baseline seronegative participants had a positive PCR after baseline serology testing (4.25 per 10,000 person days). Of 316 participants who were seropositive at baseline, 8 (2.5%) met criteria for possible SARS-CoV-2 reinfection (ie, PCR positive >90 days after baseline serology) during follow-up, a rate of 1.27 per 10,000 days at risk. The adjusted rate ratio for possible reinfection in baseline seropositive compared to infection in baseline seronegative participants was 0.26 (95% confidence interval, 0.13-0.53). CONCLUSIONS: Seropositivity in HCWs is associated with moderate protection from future SARS-CoV-2 infection.

8.
Sci Transl Med ; 13(607)2021 08 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1329034

ABSTRACT

Adjuvanted soluble protein vaccines have been used extensively in humans for protection against various viral infections based on their robust induction of antibody responses. Here, soluble prefusion-stabilized spike protein trimers (preS dTM) from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were formulated with the adjuvant AS03 and administered twice to nonhuman primates (NHPs). Binding and functional neutralization assays and systems serology revealed that the vaccinated NHP developed AS03-dependent multifunctional humoral responses that targeted distinct domains of the spike protein and bound to a variety of Fc receptors mediating immune cell effector functions in vitro. The neutralizing 50% inhibitory concentration titers for pseudovirus and live SARS-CoV-2 were higher than titers for a panel of human convalescent serum samples. NHPs were challenged intranasally and intratracheally with a high dose (3 × 106 plaque forming units) of SARS-CoV-2 (USA-WA1/2020 isolate). Two days after challenge, vaccinated NHPs showed rapid control of viral replication in both the upper and lower airways. Vaccinated NHPs also had increased spike protein-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody responses in the lung as early as 2 days after challenge. Moreover, passive transfer of vaccine-induced IgG to hamsters mediated protection from subsequent SARS-CoV-2 challenge. These data show that antibodies induced by the AS03-adjuvanted preS dTM vaccine were sufficient to mediate protection against SARS-CoV-2 in NHPs and that rapid anamnestic antibody responses in the lung may be a key mechanism for protection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/therapy , Cricetinae , Immunization, Passive , Lung , Primates , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
9.
Urology ; 154: 158-163, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1233625

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To study the use of video visits for male infertility care prior to the COVID-19 pandemic METHODS: We reviewed video visits for male infertility patients completed at a tertiary academic center in southeast Michigan. These patients had follow-up after an initial in-person evaluation. We designed this retrospective case series to describe the diagnostic categories seen through telehealth, management steps completed during video visits, and to understand whether additional in-person care was required within 90 days of video visits. In addition, we estimated time and cost savings for patients attributed to video visits. RESULTS: Most men seen during video visits had an endocrinologic (29%) or anatomic (21%) cause for their infertility. 73% of video visits involved reviewing results; 30% included counseling regarding assistive reproductive technologies; and 25% of video visits resulted in prescribing hormonally active medications. The two patients (3%) who were seen in clinic after their video visit underwent a varicocelectomy in the interim. No patients required an unplanned in-person visit. From a patient perspective, video visits were estimated to save a median of 97 minutes (IQR 64-250) of travel per visit. Median cost savings per patient- by avoiding travel and taking time off work for a clinic visit-were estimated to range from $149 (half day off) to $252 (full day off). CONCLUSION: Video visits for established male infertility patients were used to manage different causes of infertility while saving patients time and money. Telehealth for established patients did not trigger additional in-person evaluations.


Subject(s)
Infertility, Male , Remote Consultation , Academic Medical Centers , Adult , Cost Savings , Humans , Male , Michigan , Middle Aged , Retrospective Studies , Time Factors , Young Adult
10.
Nature ; 594(7862): 253-258, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1192479

ABSTRACT

The development of a portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines to vaccinate the global population remains an urgent public health imperative1. Here we demonstrate the capacity of a subunit vaccine, comprising the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor-binding domain displayed on an I53-50 protein nanoparticle scaffold (hereafter designated RBD-NP), to stimulate robust and durable neutralizing-antibody responses and protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques. We evaluated five adjuvants including Essai O/W 1849101, a squalene-in-water emulsion; AS03, an α-tocopherol-containing oil-in-water emulsion; AS37, a Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonist adsorbed to alum; CpG1018-alum, a TLR9 agonist formulated in alum; and alum. RBD-NP immunization with AS03, CpG1018-alum, AS37 or alum induced substantial neutralizing-antibody and CD4 T cell responses, and conferred protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the pharynges, nares and bronchoalveolar lavage. The neutralizing-antibody response to live virus was maintained up to 180 days after vaccination with RBD-NP in AS03 (RBD-NP-AS03), and correlated with protection from infection. RBD-NP immunization cross-neutralized the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant efficiently but showed a reduced response against the B.1.351 variant. RBD-NP-AS03 produced a 4.5-fold reduction in neutralization of B.1.351 whereas the group immunized with RBD-NP-AS37 produced a 16-fold reduction in neutralization of B.1.351, suggesting differences in the breadth of the neutralizing-antibody response induced by these adjuvants. Furthermore, RBD-NP-AS03 was as immunogenic as a prefusion-stabilized spike immunogen (HexaPro) with AS03 adjuvant. These data highlight the efficacy of the adjuvanted RBD-NP vaccine in promoting protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and have led to phase I/II clinical trials of this vaccine (NCT04742738 and NCT04750343).


Subject(s)
Adjuvants, Immunologic , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vaccines, Subunit/immunology , Alum Compounds , Animals , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/cytology , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic , Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic , Disease Models, Animal , Immunity, Cellular , Immunity, Humoral , Macaca mulatta/immunology , Male , Oligodeoxyribonucleotides , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Squalene
11.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1018, 2021 02 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1085426

ABSTRACT

Antibodies serve as biomarkers of infection, but if sustained can confer long-term immunity. Yet, for most clinically approved vaccines, binding antibody titers only serve as a surrogate of protection. Instead, the ability of vaccine induced antibodies to neutralize or mediate Fc-effector functions is mechanistically linked to protection. While evidence has begun to point to persisting antibody responses among SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals, cases of re-infection have begun to emerge, calling the protective nature of humoral immunity against this highly infectious pathogen into question. Using a community-based surveillance study, we aimed to define the relationship between titers and functional antibody activity to SARS-CoV-2 over time. Here we report significant heterogeneity, but limited decay, across antibody titers amongst 120 identified seroconverters, most of whom had asymptomatic infection. Notably, neutralization, Fc-function, and SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell responses were only observed in subjects that elicited RBD-specific antibody titers above a threshold. The findings point to a switch-like relationship between observed antibody titer and function, where a distinct threshold of activity-defined by the level of antibodies-is required to elicit vigorous humoral and cellular response. This response activity level may be essential for durable protection, potentially explaining why re-infections occur with SARS-CoV-2 and other common coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/blood , Female , Humans , Immunity, Humoral/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Viral Vaccines/immunology , Young Adult
12.
Open Forum Infect Dis ; 8(1): ofaa582, 2021 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1032518

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Identifying factors associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among health care workers (HCWs) may help health systems optimize SARS-CoV-2 infection control strategies. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Northwestern HCW SARS-CoV-2 Serology Cohort Study. We used the Abbott Architect Nucleocapsid IgG assay to determine seropositivity. Logistic regression models (adjusted for demographics and self-reported community exposure to coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]) were fit to quantify the associations between occupation group, health care delivery tasks, and community exposure and seropositive status. RESULTS: A total of 6510 HCWs, including 1794 nurses and 904 non-patient-facing administrators, participated. The majority were women (79.6%), 74.9% were White, 9.7% were Asian, 7.3% were Hispanic, and 3.1% were non-Hispanic Black. The crude prevalence of seropositivity was 4.8% (95% CI, 4.6%-5.2%). Seropositivity varied by race/ethnicity as well as age, ranging from 4.2% to 9.6%. Out-of-hospital exposure to COVID-19 occurred in 9.3% of HCWs, 15.0% (95% CI, 12.2%-18.1%) of whom were seropositive; those with family members diagnosed with COVID-19 had a seropositivity rate of 54% (95% CI, 44.2%-65.2%). Support service workers (10.4%; 95% CI, 4.6%-19.4%), medical assistants (10.1%; 95% CI, 5.5%-16.6%), and nurses (7.6%; 95% CI, 6.4%-9.0%) had significantly higher seropositivity rates than administrators (referent; 3.3%; 95% CI, 2.3%-4.4%). However, after adjustment, nursing was the only occupation group with a significantly higher odds (odds ratio, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.3-2.9) of seropositivity. Exposure to patients receiving high-flow oxygen therapy and hemodialysis was significantly associated with 45% and 57% higher odds for seropositive status, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: HCWs are at risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection from longer-duration exposures to people infected with SARS-CoV-2 within health care settings and their communities of residence.

13.
Nature ; 590(7847): 630-634, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-960322

ABSTRACT

Recent studies have reported the protective efficacy of both natural1 and vaccine-induced2-7 immunity against challenge with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in rhesus macaques. However, the importance of humoral and cellular immunity for protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2 remains to be determined. Here we show that the adoptive transfer of purified IgG from convalescent rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) protects naive recipient macaques against challenge with SARS-CoV-2 in a dose-dependent fashion. Depletion of CD8+ T cells in convalescent macaques partially abrogated the protective efficacy of natural immunity against rechallenge with SARS-CoV-2, which suggests a role for cellular immunity in the context of waning or subprotective antibody titres. These data demonstrate that relatively low antibody titres are sufficient for protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques, and that cellular immune responses may contribute to protection if antibody responses are suboptimal. We also show that higher antibody titres are required for treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection in macaques. These findings have implications for the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and immune-based therapeutic agents.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/therapy , Disease Models, Animal , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adoptive Transfer , Animals , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/cytology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Female , Immunization, Passive , Immunoglobulin G/administration & dosage , Immunoglobulin G/analysis , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Macaca mulatta/immunology , Macaca mulatta/virology , Male , Regression Analysis , Viral Load/immunology
15.
Cell ; 183(1): 143-157.e13, 2020 10 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-720447

ABSTRACT

Humoral responses in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are often of limited durability, as seen with other human coronavirus epidemics. To address the underlying etiology, we examined post mortem thoracic lymph nodes and spleens in acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and observed the absence of germinal centers and a striking reduction in Bcl-6+ germinal center B cells but preservation of AID+ B cells. Absence of germinal centers correlated with an early specific block in Bcl-6+ TFH cell differentiation together with an increase in T-bet+ TH1 cells and aberrant extra-follicular TNF-α accumulation. Parallel peripheral blood studies revealed loss of transitional and follicular B cells in severe disease and accumulation of SARS-CoV-2-specific "disease-related" B cell populations. These data identify defective Bcl-6+ TFH cell generation and dysregulated humoral immune induction early in COVID-19 disease, providing a mechanistic explanation for the limited durability of antibody responses in coronavirus infections, and suggest that achieving herd immunity through natural infection may be difficult.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Germinal Center/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer/immunology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , B-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19 , Female , Germinal Center/pathology , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6/genetics , Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6/metabolism , Spleen/immunology , Spleen/pathology , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/metabolism
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