Preliminary Analysis of B- and T-Cell Responses to SARS-CoV-2

Mol Diagn Ther. 2020 Jul 24;1-9. doi: 10.1007/s40291-020-00486-3. Online ahead of print.


Background and objective: Without a specific antiviral treatment or vaccine, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a global pandemic, affecting over 200 countries worldwide. A better understanding of B- and T-cell immunity is critical to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Methods: A cohort of 129 patients with COVID-19 and 20 suspected cases were enrolled in this study, and a lateral flow immunochromatographic assay (LFIA) and a magnetic chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay (MCLIA) were evaluated for SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG detection. Additionally, 127 patients with COVID-19 were selected for the detection of IgM and IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 to evaluate B-cell immunity, and peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets were quantified in 95 patients with COVID-19 to evaluate T-cell immunity.

Results: The sensitivity and specificity of LFIA-IgM/IgG and MCLIA-IgM/IgG assays for detecting SARS-CoV infection were > 90%, comparable with reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction detection. IgM antibody levels peaked on day 13 and began to fall on day 21, while IgG antibody levels peaked on day 17 and were maintained until tracking ended. Lymphocyte and subset enumeration suggested that lymphocytopenia occurred in patients with COVID-19.

Conclusions: LFIA-IgM/IgG and MCLIA-IgM/IgG assays can indicate SARS-CoV-2 infection, which elicits an antibody response. Lymphocytopenia occurs in patients with COVID-19, which possibly weakens the T-cell response.