Sherina N, Piralla A, Du L, Wan H, Kumagai-Braesch M, Andréll J, Braesch-Andersen S, Cassaniti I, Percivalle E, Sarasini A, Bergami F, Di Martino R, Colaneri M, Vecchia M, Sambo M, Zuccaro V, Bruno R, Sachs M, Oggionni T, Meloni F, Abolhassani H, Bertoglio F, Schubert M, Byrne-Steele M, Han J, Hust M, Xue Y, Hammarström L, Baldanti F, Marcotte H, Pan-Hammarström Q
Med (N Y) 2 (3) 281-295.e4 [2021-03-12; online 2021-02-10]
Monitoring the adaptive immune responses during the natural course of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection provides useful information for the development of vaccination strategies against this virus and its emerging variants. We thus profiled the serum anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody (Ab) levels and specific memory B and T cell responses in convalescent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. A total of 119 samples from 88 convalescent donors who experienced mild to critical disease were tested for the presence of elevated anti-spike and anti-receptor binding domain Ab levels over a period of 8 months. In addition, the levels of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing Abs and specific memory B and T cell responses were tested in a subset of samples. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Abs were present in 85% of the samples collected within 4 weeks after the onset of symptoms in COVID-19 patients. Levels of specific immunoglobulin M (IgM)/IgA Abs declined after 1 month, while levels of specific IgG Abs and plasma neutralizing activities remained relatively stable up to 6 months after diagnosis. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG Abs were still present, although at a significantly lower level, in 80% of the samples collected at 6-8 months after symptom onset. SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B and T cell responses developed with time and were persistent in all of the patients followed up for 6-8 months. Our data suggest that protective adaptive immunity following natural infection of SARS-CoV-2 may persist for at least 6-8 months, regardless of disease severity. Development of medium- or long-term protective immunity through vaccination may thus be possible. This project was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (ATAC, no. 101003650), the Italian Ministry of Health (Ricerca Finalizzata grant no. GR-2013-02358399), the Center for Innovative Medicine, and the Swedish Research Council. J.A. was supported by the SciLifeLab/KAW national COVID-19 research program project grant 2020.