Robust T Cell Immunity in Convalescent Individuals with Asymptomatic or Mild COVID-19

Cell. 2020 Oct 1;183(1):158-168.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.08.017. Epub 2020 Aug 14.

Abstract

SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cells will likely prove critical for long-term immune protection against COVID-19. Here, we systematically mapped the functional and phenotypic landscape of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses in unexposed individuals, exposed family members, and individuals with acute or convalescent COVID-19. Acute-phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells displayed a highly activated cytotoxic phenotype that correlated with various clinical markers of disease severity, whereas convalescent-phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were polyfunctional and displayed a stem-like memory phenotype. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were detectable in antibody-seronegative exposed family members and convalescent individuals with a history of asymptomatic and mild COVID-19. Our collective dataset shows that SARS-CoV-2 elicits broadly directed and functionally replete memory T cell responses, suggesting that natural exposure or infection may prevent recurrent episodes of severe COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Asymptomatic Infections
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology
  • Convalescence*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*

Substances

  • Antibodies, Viral

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2