Background: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has caused a pandemic with tens of millions of cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths. The infection causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a disease of the respiratory system of divergent severity. In the current study, humoral immune responses were characterized in a cohort of 143 patients with COVID-19 from the University Hospital Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Methods: SARS-CoV-2-specific-antibodies were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). SARS-CoV-2 and human coronavirus NL63 neutralization activity was analyzed with pseudotyped lentiviral vectors.
Results: The severity of COVID-19 increased with age, and male patients encountered more serious symptoms than female patients. Disease severity was correlated with the amount of SARS-CoV-2-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgA and the neutralization activity of the antibodies. The amount of SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG antibodies decreased with time after polymerase chain reaction conformation of the infection, and antibodies directed against the nucleoprotein waned faster than spike protein-directed antibodies. In contrast, for the common flu coronavirus NL63, COVID-19 disease severity seemed to be correlated with low NL63-neutralizing activities, suggesting the possibility of cross-reactive protection.
Conclusion: The results describe the humoral immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 and might aid the identification of correlates of protection needed for vaccine development.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; antibody; coronavirus; neutralization.
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