Robust SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity is maintained at 6 months following primary infection

10.1038/ s41590-021-00902-8

Nature Immunology

8th March 2021

Contributing to research themes:

The immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is critical in controlling disease, but there is concern that waning immunity may predispose to reinfection. We analyzed the magnitude and phenotype of the SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell response in 100 donors at 6 months following infection. T cell responses were present by ELISPOT and/or intracellular cytokine staining analysis in all donors and characterized by predominant CD4+ T cell responses with strong interleukin (IL)-2 cytokine expression. Median T cell responses were 50% higher in donors who had experienced a symptomatic infection, indicating that the severity of primary infection establishes a ‘set point’ for cellular immunity. T cell responses to spike and nucleoprotein/membrane proteins were correlated with peak antibody levels. Furthermore, higher levels of nucleoprotein-specific T cells were associated with preservation of nucleoprotein-specific antibody level although no such correlation was observed in relation to spike-specific responses. In conclusion, our data are reassuring that functional SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses are retained at 6 months following infection.

Author list:

Jianmin Zuo, Alexander C. Dowell, Hayden Pearce, Kriti Verma, Heather M. Long, Jusnara Begum, Felicity Aiano, Zahin Amin-Chowdhury, Bassam Hallis, Lorrain Stapley, Ray Borrow, Ezra Linley, Shazaad Ahmad, Ben Parker, Alex Horsley, Gayatri Amirthalingam, Kevin Brown, Mary E. Ramsay, Shamez Ladhani, Paul Moss