OPEN Cell | 28 Sep 2020
T Sekine, A Perez-Potti, O Rivera-Ballesteros, K Strålin, JB Gorin, A Olsson, S Llewellyn-Lacey, H Kamal, G Bogdanovic, S Muschiol, DJ Wullimann, T Kammann, J Emgård, T Parrot, E Folkesson, O Rooyackers, LI Eriksson, JI Henter, A Sönnerborg, T Allander, J Albert, M Nielsen, J Klingström, S Gredmark-Russ, NK Björkström, JK Sandberg, DA Price, HG Ljunggren, S Aleman and M Buggert
SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cells will likely prove critical for long-term immune protection against COVID-19. Here, we systematically mapped the functional and phenotypic landscape of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses in unexposed individuals, exposed family members, and individuals with acute or convalescent COVID-19. Acute-phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells displayed a highly activated cytotoxic phenotype that correlated with various clinical markers of disease severity, whereas convalescent-phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were polyfunctional and displayed a stem-like memory phenotype. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were detectable in antibody-seronegative exposed family members and convalescent individuals with a history of asymptomatic and mild COVID-19. Our collective dataset shows that SARS-CoV-2 elicits broadly directed and functionally replete memory T cell responses, suggesting that natural exposure or infection may prevent recurrent episodes of severe COVID-19.
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