Phagocytic responses by effector cells to opsonized viruses have been recognized to play a key role in antiviral immunity. Limited data on coronavirus disease 2019 suggest that the role of Ab-dependent and -independent phagocytosis may contribute to the observed immunological and inflammatory responses; however, their development, duration, and role remain to be fully elucidated. In this study of 62 acute and convalescent patients, we found that patients with acute coronavirus disease 2019 can mount a phagocytic response to autologous plasma-opsonized Spike protein-coated microbeads as early as 10 d after symptom onset, while heat inactivation of this plasma caused 77-95% abrogation of the phagocytic response and preblocking of Fc receptors showed variable 18-60% inhibition. In convalescent patients, phagocytic response significantly correlated with anti-Spike IgG titers and older patients, while patients with severe disease had significantly higher phagocytosis and neutralization functions compared with patients with asymptomatic, mild, or moderate disease. A longitudinal subset of the convalescent patients over 12 mo showed an increase in plasma Ab affinity toward Spike Ag and preservation of phagocytic and neutralization functions, despite a decline in the anti-Spike IgG titers by >90%. Our data suggest that early phagocytosis is primarily driven by heat-liable components of the plasma, such as activated complements, while anti-Spike IgG titers account for the majority of observed phagocytosis at convalescence. Longitudinally, a significant increase in the affinity of the anti-Spike Abs was observed that correlated with the maintenance of both the phagocytic and neutralization functions, suggesting an improvement in the quality of the Abs.
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