Functional SARS-CoV-2-Specific Immune Memory Persists after Mild COVID-19.
Cell. 2020 Nov 23. Epub 2020 Nov 23. PMID: 33296701
Lauren B Rodda
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus is causing a global pandemic, and cases continue to rise. Most infected individuals experience mildly symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but it is unknown whether this can induce persistent immune memory that could contribute to immunity. We performed a longitudinal assessment of individuals recovered from mild COVID-19 to determine whether they develop and sustain multifaceted SARS-CoV-2-specific immunological memory. Recovered individuals developed SARS-CoV-2-specific immunoglobulin (IgG) antibodies, neutralizing plasma, and memory B and memory T cells that persisted for at least 3 months. Our data further reveal that SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG memory B cells increased over time. Additionally, SARS-CoV-2-specific memory lymphocytes exhibited characteristics associated with potent antiviral function: memory T cells secreted cytokines and expanded upon antigen re-encounter, whereas memory B cells expressed receptors capable of neutralizing virus when expressed as monoclonal antibodies. Therefore, mild COVID-19 elicits memory lymphocytes that persist and display functional hallmarks of antiviral immunity.