Infection with SARS-CoV-2 primes immunological memory in human nasal-associated lymphoid tissue.
Clin Immunol. 2021 Sep 8 ;231:108850. Epub 2021 Sep 8. PMID: 34506944
Waleed H Mahallawi
BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, has resulted in considerable morbidity and mortality in humans. Little is known regarding the development of immunological memory following SARS-CoV-2 infection or whether immunological memory can provide long-lasting protection against reinfection. Urgent need for vaccines is a considerable issue for all governments worldwide.
METHODS: A total of 39 patients were recruited in this study. Tonsillar mononuclear cells (MNCs) were co-cultured in RPMI medium and stimulated with the full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in the presence and absence of a CpG-DNA adjuvant. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was utilised to measure the specific antibody response to the spike protein in the cell culture supernatants.
RESULTS: The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein primed a potent memory B cell-mediated immune response in nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) from patients previously infected with the virus. Additionally, spike protein combined with the CpG-DNA adjuvant induced a significantly increased level of specific anti-spike protein IgG antibody compared with the spike protein alone (p < 0.0001, n = 24). We also showed a strong positive correlation between the specific anti-spike protein IgG antibody level in a serum samples and that produced by MNCs derived from the same COVID-19-recovered patients following stimulation (r = 0.76, p = 0.0002, n = 24).
CONCLUSION: Individuals with serological evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 exposure showed a significant anti-spike protein-specific memory humoral immune response to the viral spike protein upon stimulation. Additionally, our results demonstrated the functional response of NALT-derived MNCs to the viral spike protein. CpG-DNA adjuvant combined with spike protein induced significantly stronger humoral immune responses than the spike protein alone. These data indicate that the S protein antigen combined with CpG-DNA adjuvant could be used as a future vaccine candidate.