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Deciphering the quality of SARS-CoV-2 specific T-cell response associated with disease severity, immune memory and heterologous response.

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Abstract
SARS-CoV-2 specific T-cell response has been associated with disease severity, immune memory and heterologous response to endemic coronaviruses. However, an integrative approach combining a comprehensive analysis of the quality of SARS-CoV-2 specific T-cell response with antibody levels in these three scenarios is needed. In the present study, we found that, in acute infection, while mild disease was associated with high T-cell polyfunctionality biased to IL-2 production and inversely correlated with anti-S IgG levels, combinations only including IFN-γ with the absence of perforin production predominated in severe disease. Seven months after infection, both non-hospitalised and previously hospitalised patients presented robust anti-S IgG levels and SARS-CoV-2 specific T-cell response. In addition, only previously hospitalised patients showed a T-cell exhaustion profile. Finally, combinations including IL-2 in response to S protein of endemic coronaviruses were the ones associated with SARS-CoV-2 S-specific T-cell response in pre-COVID-19 healthy donors' samples. These results could have implications for protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and recurrent COVID-19 and may help for the design of new prototypes and boosting vaccine strategies.
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COVID-19, IL-2, SARS-CoV-2, Spike, T-cell response, endemic coronaviruses, nucleocapsid, polyfunctionality
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