Three doses of BNT162b2 COVID-19 mRNA vaccine establish long-lasting CD8+ T cell immunity in CLL and MDS patients

Susana Patricia Amaya Hernandez, Ditte Stampe Hersby, Kamilla Kjærgaard Munk, Tripti Tamhane, Darya Trubach, Maria Tagliamonte, Luigi Buonaguro, Anne Ortved Gang, Sine Reker Hadrup, Sunil Kumar Saini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Patients with hematological malignancies are prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine due to their high risk for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection-related disease and mortality. To understand T cell immunity, its long-term persistence, and its correlation with antibody response, we evaluated the BNT162b2 COVID-19 mRNA vaccine-specific immune response in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and myeloid dysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients. Longitudinal analysis of CD8+ T cells using DNA-barcoded peptide-MHC multimers covering the full SARS-CoV-2 Spike-protein (415 peptides) showed vaccine-specific T cell activation and persistence of memory T cells up to six months post-vaccination. Surprisingly, a higher frequency of vaccine-induced antigen-specific CD8+ T cells was observed in the patient group compared to a healthy donor group. Furthermore, and importantly, immunization with the second booster dose significantly increased the frequency of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells as well as the total number of T cell specificities. Altogether 59 BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine-derived immunogenic responses were identified, of which 23 established long-term CD8+ T cell memory response with a strong immunodominance for NYNYLYRLF (HLA-A24:02) and YLQPRTFLL (HLA-A02:01) epitopes. In summary, we mapped the vaccine-induced antigen-specific CD8+ T cells and showed a booster-specific activation and enrichment of memory T cells that could be important for long-term disease protection in this patient group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1035344
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • CD8+ T cell
  • Hematological cancer
  • mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2
  • SARS – CoV – 2
  • T cell memory
  • T-cell immunity


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