Long-term SARS-CoV-2-specific and cross-reactive cellular immune responses correlate with humoral responses, disease severity, and symptomatology

Immun Inflamm Dis. 2022 Apr;10(4):e595. doi: 10.1002/iid3.595.


Background: Cellular immune memory responses post coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been difficult to assess due to the risks of contaminating the immune response readout with memory responses stemming from previous exposure to endemic coronaviruses. The work herein presents a large-scale long-term follow-up study investigating the correlation between symptomology and cellular immune responses four to five months post seroconversion based on a unique severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific peptide pool that contains no overlapping peptides with endemic human coronaviruses.

Methods: Peptide stimulated memory T cell responses were assessed with dual interferon-gamma (IFNγ) and interleukin (IL)-2 Fluorospot. Serological analyses were performed using a multiplex antigen bead array.

Results: Our work demonstrates that long-term SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cell responses feature dual IFNγ and IL-2 responses, whereas cross-reactive memory T cell responses primarily generate IFNγ in response to SARS-CoV-2 peptide stimulation. T cell responses correlated to long-term humoral immune responses. Disease severity as well as specific COVID-19 symptoms correlated with the magnitude of the SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cell response four to five months post seroconversion.

Conclusion: Using a large cohort and a SARS-CoV-2-specific peptide pool we were able to substantiate that initial disease severity and symptoms correlate with the magnitude of the SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cell responses.

Keywords: B-cell; IFNγ; IL-2; SARS-Cov-2; T cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • COVID-19*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Severity of Illness Index