Long-lived effector/central memory T-cell responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) S antigen in recovered SARS patients

Clin Immunol. 2006 Aug;120(2):171-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2006.05.002. Epub 2006 Jun 16.


The role of cell-mediated immunity in human SARS-CoV infection is still not well understood. In this study, we found that memory T-cell responses against the spike (S) protein were persistent for more than 1 year after SARS-CoV infection by detecting the production of IFN-gamma using ELISA and ELISpot assays. Flow cytometric analysis showed that both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were involved in cellular responses against SARS-CoV infection. Interestingly, most of SARS-CoV S-specific memory CD4(+) T cells were central memory cells expressing CD45RO(+) CCR7(+) CD62L(-). However, the majority of memory CD8(+) T cells revealed effector memory phenotype expressing CD45RO(-) CCR7(-) CD62L(-). Thus, our study provides the evidence that SARS-CoV infection in humans can induce cellular immune response that is persistent for a long period of time. These data may have an important implication in the possibility of designing effective vaccine against SARS-CoV infection, specifically in defining T-cell populations that are implicated in protective immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology*
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / immunology*
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • Time
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology*


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interleukin-2
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Peptides
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • spike glycoprotein, SARS-CoV
  • spike protein, mouse hepatitis virus
  • Interferon-gamma