Durable T-cellular and humoral responses in SARS-CoV-2 hospitalized and community patients
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLOS ONE. 2022, 17 (2), e0261979. 10.1371/journal.pone.0261979
Background Neutralizing antibodies are important for protection against the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus, and long-term memory responses determine the risk of re-infection or boosting after vaccination. T-cellular responses are considered important for partial protection against novel variants of concern. Methods A prospective cohort of hospitalized (n = 14) and community (n = 38) patients with rt-PCR confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were recruited. Blood samples and clinical data were collected when diagnosed and at 6 months. Serum samples were analyzed for SARS-CoV-2-spike specific antibodies using ELISA (IgG, IgA, IgM), pseudotype neutralization and microneutralization assays. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were investigated for virus-specific T-cell responses in the interferon-γ and interleukin-2 fluorescent-linked immunosorbent spot (FluroSpot) assay. Results We found durable SARS-CoV-2 spike- and internal protein specific T-cellular responses in patients with persistent antibodies at 6 months. Significantly higher IL-2 and IFN-γ secreting T-cell responses as well as SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG and neutralizing antibodies were detected in hospitalized compared to community patients. The immune response was impacted by age, gender, comorbidity and severity of illness, reflecting clinical observations. Conclusions SARS-CoV-2 specific T-cellular and antibody responses persisted for 6 months post confirmed infection. In previously infected patients, re-exposure or vaccination will boost long-term immunity, possibly providing protection against re-infection with variant viruses.