Adaptive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection in severe versus mild individuals

Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2020 Aug 14;5(1):156. doi: 10.1038/s41392-020-00263-y.


The global Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has affected more than eight million people. There is an urgent need to investigate how the adaptive immunity is established in COVID-19 patients. In this study, we profiled adaptive immune cells of PBMCs from recovered COVID-19 patients with varying disease severity using single-cell RNA and TCR/BCR V(D)J sequencing. The sequencing data revealed SARS-CoV-2-specific shuffling of adaptive immune repertories and COVID-19-induced remodeling of peripheral lymphocytes. Characterization of variations in the peripheral T and B cells from the COVID-19 patients revealed a positive correlation of humoral immune response and T-cell immune memory with disease severity. Sequencing and functional data revealed SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell immune memory in the convalescent COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, we also identified novel antigens that are responsive in the convalescent patients. Altogether, our study reveals adaptive immune repertories underlying pathogenesis and recovery in severe versus mild COVID-19 patients, providing valuable information for potential vaccine and therapeutic development against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Viral / genetics
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / classification
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity*
  • COVID-19
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China
  • Convalescence
  • Coronavirus Infections / genetics
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular*
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / genetics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / classification
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / classification
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / classification
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / virology


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell