Although both infections and vaccines induce memory B cell (MBC) populations that participate in secondary immune responses, the MBCs generated in each case can differ. Here, we compare SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor binding domain (S1-RBD)-specific primary MBCs that form in response to infection or a single mRNA vaccination. Both primary MBC populations have similar frequencies in the blood and respond to a second S1-RBD exposure by rapidly producing plasmablasts with an abundant immunoglobulin (Ig)A+ subset and secondary MBCs that are mostly IgG+ and cross-react with the B.1.351 variant. However, infection-induced primary MBCs have better antigen-binding capacity and generate more plasmablasts and secondary MBCs of the classical and atypical subsets than do vaccine-induced primary MBCs. Our results suggest that infection-induced primary MBCs have undergone more affinity maturation than vaccine-induced primary MBCs and produce more robust secondary responses.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; atypical memory B cell; mRNA vaccine; memory B cell; plasmablast.
Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.