Longevity of anti-spike and anti-nucleocapsid antibodies after COVID-19 in solid organ transplant recipients compared to immunocompetent controls

Am J Transplant. 2022 Apr;22(4):1245-1252. doi: 10.1111/ajt.16909. Epub 2021 Dec 14.


Solid organ transplant recipients (SOTRs) are on lifelong immunosuppression, which may interfere with adaptive immunity to COVID-19. The data on dynamics and duration of antibody response in SOTRs are limited. This longitudinal study examined the longevity of both anti-spike (S)- and anti-nucleocapsid (N)-specific IgG antibodies after COVID-19 in SOTRs compared to matched immunocompetent persons. SOTRs (n = 65) were matched with controls (n = 65) for COVID-19 disease severity, age, and sex in order of priority. Serum-IgG antibodies against N and S antigens of SARS-CoV-2 were analyzed. At 1 and 9 months after COVID-19, anti-S-IgG detectability decreased from 91% to 82% in SOTRs versus 100% to 95% in controls, whereas the anti-N-IgG decreased from 63% to 29% in SOTRs versus 89% to 46% in controls. A matched paired analysis showed SOTRs having significantly lower levels of anti-N-IgG at all time points (1 month p = .007, 3 months p < .001, 6 months p = .019, and 9 months p = .021) but not anti-S-IgG at any time points. A mixed-model analysis confirmed these findings except for anti-S-IgG at 1 month (p = .005) and identified severity score as the most important predictor of antibody response. SOTRs mount comparable S-specific, but not N-specific, antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to immunocompetent controls.

Keywords: antibody biology; clinical research/practice; immunosuppression/immune modulation; infection and infectious agents-viral; infectious disease; organ transplantation in general.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Transplant Recipients


  • Antibodies, Viral