Adaptive immune determinants of viral clearance and protection in mouse models of SARS-CoV-2

Sci Immunol. 2021 Oct 15;6(64):eabl4509. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abl4509. Epub 2021 Sep 2.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused more than 160 million infections and more than 3 million deaths worldwide. Although effective vaccines are currently being deployed, the adaptive immune determinants that promote viral clearance and confer protection remain poorly defined. Using mouse models of SARS-CoV-2, we demonstrate that both humoral and cellular adaptive immunity contribute to viral clearance in the setting of primary infection. Furthermore, we find that either convalescent mice or mice that receive mRNA vaccination are protected from both homologous infection and infection with a variant of concern, B.1.351. In addition, we find that this protection is largely mediated by antibody response and not cellular immunity. These results highlight the in vivo protective capacity of antibodies generated to both vaccine and natural infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / genetics
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / pharmacology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Immunity, Cellular*
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Vero Cells


  • COVID-19 Vaccines