To develop preventive and therapeutic measures against coronavirus disease 2019, the complete characterization of immune response and sustained immune activation following viral infection and vaccination are critical. However, the mechanisms controlling intrapersonal variation in antibody titers against SARS-CoV-2 antigens remain unclear. To gain further insights, we performed a robust molecular and cellular investigation of immune responses in infected, recovered, and vaccinated individuals. We evaluated the serum levels of 29 cytokines and their correlation with neutralizing antibody titer. We investigated memory B-cell response in patients infected with the original SARS-CoV-2 strain or other variants, and in vaccinated individuals. Longitudinal correlation analyses revealed that post-vaccination neutralizing potential was more strongly associated with various serum cytokine levels in recovered patients than in naïve individuals. We found that IL-10, CCL2, CXCL10, and IL-12p40 are candidate biomarkers of serum-neutralizing antibody titer after the vaccination of recovered individuals. We found a similar distribution of virus-specific antibody gene families in triple-vaccinated individuals and a patient with COVID-19 pneumonia for 1 year. Thus, distinct immune responses occur depending on the viral strain and clinical history, suggesting that therapeutic options should be selected on a case-by-case basis. Candidate biomarkers that correlate with repeated vaccination may support the efficacy and safety evaluation systems of mRNA vaccines and lead to the development of novel vaccine strategies.
Keywords: COVID-19; cytokine; immunodeficiency; vaccine biomarker.