As SARS-CoV-2 infections and death counts continue to rise, it remains unclear why some individuals recover from infection, whereas others rapidly progress and die. Although the immunological mechanisms that underlie different clinical trajectories remain poorly defined, pathogen-specific antibodies often point to immunological mechanisms of protection. Here, we profiled SARS-CoV-2-specific humoral responses in a cohort of 22 hospitalized individuals. Despite inter-individual heterogeneity, distinct antibody signatures resolved individuals with different outcomes. Although no differences in SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG levels were observed, spike-specific humoral responses were enriched among convalescent individuals, whereas functional antibody responses to the nucleocapsid were elevated in deceased individuals. Furthermore, this enriched immunodominant spike-specific antibody profile in convalescents was confirmed in a larger validation cohort. These results demonstrate that early antigen-specific and qualitative features of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies point to differences in disease trajectory, highlighting the potential importance of functional antigen-specific humoral immunity to guide patient care and vaccine development.
Cellular and humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is critical to control primary infection and correlates with severity of disease. The role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity, its relationship to antibodies, and pre-existing immunity against endemic coronaviruses (huCoV), which has been hypothesized to be protective, were investigated in 82 healthy donors (HDs), 204 recovered (RCs), and 92 active COVID-19 patients (ACs). ACs had high amounts of anti-SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid and spike IgG but lymphopenia and overall reduced antiviral T cell responses due to the inflammatory milieu, expression of inhibitory molecules (PD-1, Tim-3) as well as effector caspase-3, -7, and -8 activity in T cells. SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity conferred by polyfunctional, mainly interferon-γ-secreting CD4+ T cells remained stable throughout convalescence, whereas humoral responses declined. Immune responses toward huCoV in RCs with mild disease and strong cellular SARS-CoV-2 T cell reactivity imply a protective role of pre-existing immunity against huCoV.
The emergence and spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in significant global morbidity, mortality, and societal disruption. A better understanding of virus-host interactions may potentiate therapeutic insights toward limiting this infection. Here we investigated the dynamics of the systemic response to SARS-CoV-2 in hamsters by histological analysis and transcriptional profiling. Infection resulted in consistently high levels of virus in the upper and lower respiratory tracts and sporadic occurrence in other distal tissues. A longitudinal cohort revealed a wave of inflammation, including a type I interferon (IFN-I) response, that was evident in all tissues regardless of viral presence but was insufficient to prevent disease progression. Bolstering the antiviral response with intranasal administration of recombinant IFN-I reduced viral disease, prevented transmission, and lowered inflammation in vivo. This study defines the systemic host response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and supports use of intranasal IFN-I as an effective means of early treatment.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) use polarized secretion to rapidly destroy virally infected and tumor cells. To understand the temporal relationships between key events leading to secretion, we used high-resolution 4D imaging. CTLs approached targets with actin-rich projections at the leading edge, creating an initially actin-enriched contact with rearward-flowing actin. Within 1 min, cortical actin reduced across the synapse, T cell receptors (TCRs) clustered centrally to form the central supramolecular activation cluster (cSMAC), and centrosome polarization began. Granules clustered around the moving centrosome within 2.5 min and reached the synapse after 6 min. TCR-bearing intracellular vesicles were delivered to the cSMAC as the centrosome docked. We found that the centrosome and granules were delivered to an area of membrane with reduced cortical actin density and phospholipid PIP2. These data resolve the temporal order of events during synapse maturation in 4D and reveal a critical role for actin depletion in regulating secretion.
A key goal to controlling coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is developing an effective vaccine. Development of a vaccine requires knowledge of what constitutes a protective immune response and also features that might be pathogenic. Protective and pathogenic aspects of the response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are not well understood, partly because the virus has infected humans for only 6 months. However, insight into coronavirus immunity can be informed by previous studies of immune responses to non-human coronaviruses, common cold coronaviruses, and SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Here, we review the literature describing these responses and discuss their relevance to the SARS-CoV-2 immune response.
We performed an extensive immunogenomic analysis of more than 10,000 tumors comprising 33 diverse cancer types by utilizing data compiled by TCGA. Across cancer types, we identified six immune subtypes-wound healing, IFN-γ dominant, inflammatory, lymphocyte depleted, immunologically quiet, and TGF-β dominant-characterized by differences in macrophage or lymphocyte signatures, Th1:Th2 cell ratio, extent of intratumoral heterogeneity, aneuploidy, extent of neoantigen load, overall cell proliferation, expression of immunomodulatory genes, and prognosis. Specific driver mutations correlated with lower (CTNNB1, NRAS, or IDH1) or higher (BRAF, TP53, or CASP8) leukocyte levels across all cancers. Multiple control modalities of the intracellular and extracellular networks (transcription, microRNAs, copy number, and epigenetic processes) were involved in tumor-immune cell interactions, both across and within immune subtypes. Our immunogenomics pipeline to characterize these heterogeneous tumors and the resulting data are intended to serve as a resource for future targeted studies to further advance the field.
The study of human macrophages and their ontogeny is an important unresolved issue. Here, we use a humanized mouse model expressing human cytokines to dissect the development of lung macrophages from human hematopoiesis in vivo. Human CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) generated three macrophage populations, occupying separate anatomical niches in the lung. Intravascular cell labeling, cell transplantation, and fate-mapping studies established that classical CD14+ blood monocytes derived from HSPCs migrated into lung tissue and gave rise to human interstitial and alveolar macrophages. In contrast, non-classical CD16+ blood monocytes preferentially generated macrophages resident in the lung vasculature (pulmonary intravascular macrophages). Finally, single-cell RNA sequencing defined intermediate differentiation stages in human lung macrophage development from blood monocytes. This study identifies distinct developmental pathways from circulating monocytes to lung macrophages and reveals how cellular origin contributes to human macrophage identity, diversity, and localization in vivo.
The elevated circulating levels of cytokines associated with a variety of infectious and immune-mediated conditions are frequently termed a cytokine storm. Here, we explain the protective functions of cytokines in “ideal” responses; the multi-factorial origins that can drive these responses to become pathological; and how this ultimately leads to vascular damage, immunopathology, and worsening clinical outcomes.
CD4+ T cells reactive against SARS-CoV-2 can be found in unexposed individuals, and these are suggested to arise in response to common cold coronavirus (CCCoV) infection. Here, we utilized SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4+ T cell enrichment to examine the antigen avidity and clonality of these cells, as well as the relative contribution of CCCoV cross-reactivity. SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4+ memory T cells were present in virtually all unexposed individuals examined, displaying low functional avidity and multiple, highly variable cross-reactivities that were not restricted to CCCoVs. SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4+ T cells from COVID-19 patients lacked cross-reactivity to CCCoVs, irrespective of strong memory T cell responses against CCCoV in all donors analyzed. In severe but not mild COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells displayed low functional avidity and clonality, despite increased frequencies. Our findings identify low-avidity CD4+ T cell responses as a hallmark of severe COVID-19 and argue against a protective role for CCCoV-reactive T cells in SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The deployment of effective vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is critical to eradicate the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Many licensed vaccines confer protection by inducing long-lived plasma cells (LLPCs) and memory B cells (MBCs), cell types canonically generated during germinal center (GC) reactions. Here, we directly compared two vaccine platforms-mRNA vaccines and a recombinant protein formulated with an MF59-like adjuvant-looking for their abilities to quantitatively and qualitatively shape SARS-CoV-2-specific primary GC responses over time. We demonstrated that a single immunization with SARS-CoV-2 mRNA, but not with the recombinant protein vaccine, elicited potent SARS-CoV-2-specific GC B and T follicular helper (Tfh) cell responses as well as LLPCs and MBCs. Importantly, GC responses strongly correlated with neutralizing antibody production. mRNA vaccines more efficiently induced key regulators of the Tfh cell program and influenced the functional properties of Tfh cells. Overall, this study identifies SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines as strong candidates for promoting robust GC-derived immune responses.