Introduction: Lassa virus is a priority pathogen for vaccine research and development, however the duration of cellular immunity and protection in Lassa fever (LF) survivors remains unclear.
Methods: We investigated Lassa virus specific CD8+ T cell responses in 93 LF survivors. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from these individuals were infected with recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus encoding Lassa virus antigens and virus specific T cell responses were measured after 18-hour incubation. Participants who had undetectable CD8+ T cell response underwent further analysis using a 10-day T cell proliferation assays to evaluate for low T cell precursor frequency.
Results: Forty-five of the 93 LF survivors did not have a Lassa virus specific CD8+ T cell response. Of those with responses and a known date of onset of LF (N = 11), 9 had LF within the last ten years. Most participants without a measurable CD8+ T cell response were more than 10 years removed from a clinical history of LF (N = 14/16). Fourteen of 21 patients (67%) with undetectable CD8+ T cell response had a measurable Lassa virus specific CD8+ T cell response with the 10-day assay.
Discussion: Despite reports of strong CD8+ T cell responses during acute Lassa virus infection, circulating Lassa virus-specific CD8+ T cells declined to undetectable levels in most Lassa fever survivors after ten years when evaluated with an 18-hour T cell stimulation. However, when Lassa virus-specific T cells were expanded prior to restimulation, a Lassa virus-specific CD8+ T cell response could be detected in many if the samples that were negative in the 18-hour stimulation assay, suggesting that prolonged cellular immunity does exist in Lassa fever survivors at low frequencies.
Copyright: © 2022 LaVergne et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.