Robust T Cell Immunity in Convalescent Individuals with Asymptomatic or Mild COVID-19

Takuya Sekine, André Perez-Potti, Olga Rivera-Ballesteros, Kristoffer Strålin, Jean Baptiste Gorin, Annika Olsson, Sian Llewellyn-Lacey, Habiba Kamal, Gordana Bogdanovic, Sandra Muschiol, David J. Wullimann, Tobias Kammann, Johanna Emgård, Tiphaine Parrot, Elin Folkesson, Karolinska COVID-19 Study Group, Olav Rooyackers, Lars I. Eriksson, Jan Inge Henter, Anders SönnerborgTobias Allander, Jan Albert, Morten Nielsen, Jonas Klingström, Sara Gredmark-Russ, Niklas K. Björkström, Johan K. Sandberg, David A. Price, Hans Gustaf Ljunggren, Soo Aleman, Marcus Buggert

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Abstract

SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cells will likely prove critical for long-term immune protection against COVID-19. Here, we systematically mapped the functional and phenotypic landscape of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses in unexposed individuals, exposed family members, and individuals with acute or convalescent COVID-19. Acute-phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells displayed a highly activated cytotoxic phenotype that correlated with various clinical markers of disease severity, whereas convalescent-phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were polyfunctional and displayed a stem-like memory phenotype. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were detectable in antibody-seronegative exposed family members and convalescent individuals with a history of asymptomatic and mild COVID-19. Our collective dataset shows that SARS-CoV-2 elicits broadly directed and functionally replete memory T cell responses, suggesting that natural exposure or infection may prevent recurrent episodes of severe COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCELL
Volume183
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)158-168.e14
ISSN0092-8674
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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