The emergence of variants of concern, some with reduced susceptibility to COVID-19 vaccines underscores consideration for the understanding of vaccine design that optimizes induction of effective cellular and humoral immune responses. We assessed a SARS-CoV-2 spike-ferritin nanoparticle (SpFN) immunogen paired with two distinct adjuvants, Alhydrogel® or Army Liposome Formulation containing QS-21 (ALFQ) for unique vaccine evoked immune signatures. Recruitment of highly activated multifaceted antigen-presenting cells to the lymph nodes of SpFN+ALFQ vaccinated mice was associated with an increased frequency of polyfunctional spike-specific memory CD4+ T cells and Kb spike-(539-546)-specific long-lived memory CD8+ T cells with effective cytolytic function and distribution to the lungs. The presence of this epitope in SARS-CoV, suggests that generation of cross-reactive T cells may be induced against other coronavirus strains. Our study reveals that a nanoparticle vaccine, combined with a potent adjuvant that effectively engages innate immune cells, enhances SARS-CoV-2-specific durable adaptive immune T cell responses.
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