The World Health Organization has declared SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak a worldwide pandemic. However, there is very limited understanding on the immune responses, especially adaptive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here, we collected blood from COVID-19 patients who have recently become virus-free, and therefore were discharged, and detected SARS-CoV-2-specific humoral and cellular immunity in eight newly discharged patients. Follow-up analysis on another cohort of six patients 2 weeks post discharge also revealed high titers of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. In all 14 patients tested, 13 displayed serum-neutralizing activities in a pseudotype entry assay. Notably, there was a strong correlation between neutralization antibody titers and the numbers of virus-specific T cells. Our work provides a basis for further analysis of protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2, and understanding the pathogenesis of COVID-19, especially in the severe cases. It also has implications in developing an effective vaccine to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has affected millions of people worldwide, igniting an unprecedented effort from the scientific community to understand the biological underpinning of COVID19 pathophysiology. In this Review, we summarize the current state of knowledge of innate and adaptive immune responses elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection and the immunological pathways that likely contribute to disease severity and death. We also discuss the rationale and clinical outcome of current therapeutic strategies as well as prospective clinical trials to prevent or treat SARS-CoV-2 infection.
SARS-CoV-2, the causal agent of COVID-19, first emerged in late 2019 in China. It has since infected more than 870,000 individuals and caused more than 43,000 deaths globally. Here, we discuss therapeutic and prophylactic interventions for SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on vaccine development and its challenges. Vaccines are being rapidly developed but will likely come too late to affect the first wave of a potential pandemic. Nevertheless, critical lessons can be learned for the development of vaccines against rapidly emerging viruses. Importantly, SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will be essential to reducing morbidity and mortality if the virus establishes itself in the population.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting many medically important viruses such as those that cause Zika and dengue. The inoculation of viruses into mosquito bite sites is an important and common stage of all mosquito-borne virus infections. We show, using Semliki Forest virus and Bunyamwera virus, that these viruses use this inflammatory niche to aid their replication and dissemination in vivo. Mosquito bites were characterized by an edema that retained virus at the inoculation site and an inflammatory influx of neutrophils that coordinated a localized innate immune program that inadvertently facilitated virus infection by encouraging the entry and infection of virus-permissive myeloid cells. Neutrophil depletion and therapeutic blockade of inflammasome activity suppressed inflammation and abrogated the ability of the bite to promote infection. This study identifies facets of mosquito bite inflammation that are important determinants of the subsequent systemic course and clinical outcome of virus infection.
The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its associated disease, COVID-19, has demonstrated the devastating impact of a novel, infectious pathogen on a susceptible population. Here, we explain the basic concepts of herd immunity and discuss its implications in the context of COVID-19.
The epithelium and immune compartment in the intestine are constantly exposed to a fluctuating external environment. Defective communication between these compartments at this barrier surface underlies susceptibility to infections and chronic inflammation. Environmental factors play a significant, but mechanistically poorly understood, role in intestinal homeostasis. We found that regeneration of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) upon injury through infection or chemical insults was profoundly influenced by the environmental sensor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). IEC-specific deletion of Ahr resulted in failure to control C. rodentium infection due to unrestricted intestinal stem cell (ISC) proliferation and impaired differentiation, culminating in malignant transformation. AHR activation by dietary ligands restored barrier homeostasis, protected the stem cell niche, and prevented tumorigenesis via transcriptional regulation of of Rnf43 and Znrf3, E3 ubiquitin ligases that inhibit Wnt-β-catenin signaling and restrict ISC proliferation. Thus, activation of the AHR pathway in IECs guards the stem cell niche to maintain intestinal barrier integrity.
Signals controlling the generation of regulatory B (Breg) cells remain ill-defined. Here we report an “auto”-regulatory feedback mechanism between plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and Breg cells. In healthy individuals, pDCs drive the differentiation of CD19(+)CD24(hi)CD38(hi) (immature) B cells into IL-10-producing CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cells and plasmablasts, via the release of IFN-α and CD40 engagement. CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cells conversely restrained IFN-α production by pDCs via IL-10 release. In systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), this cross-talk was compromised; pDCs promoted plasmablast differentiation but failed to induce Breg cells. This defect was recapitulated in healthy B cells upon exposure to a high concentration of IFN-α. Defective pDC-mediated expansion of CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell numbers in SLE was associated with altered STAT1 and STAT3 activation. Both altered pDC-CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell interactions and STAT1-STAT3 activation were normalized in SLE patients responding to rituximab. We propose that alteration in pDC-CD24(+)CD38(hi) Breg cell interaction contributes to the pathogenesis of SLE.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against the N332 supersite of the HIV envelope (Env) trimer are the most common bnAbs induced during infection, making them promising leads for vaccine design. Wild-type Env glycoproteins lack detectable affinity for supersite-bnAb germline precursors and are therefore unsuitable immunogens to prime supersite-bnAb responses. We employed mammalian cell surface display to design stabilized Env trimers with affinity for germline-reverted precursors of PGT121-class supersite bnAbs. The trimers maintained native-like antigenicity and structure, activated PGT121 inferred-germline B cells ex vivo when multimerized on liposomes, and primed PGT121-like responses in PGT121 inferred-germline knockin mice. Design intermediates have levels of epitope modification between wild-type and germline-targeting trimers; their mutation gradient suggests sequential immunization to induce bnAbs, in which the germline-targeting prime is followed by progressively less-mutated design intermediates and, lastly, with native trimers. The vaccine design strategies described could be utilized to target other epitopes on HIV or other pathogens.
Tumor-infiltrating regulatory T lymphocytes (Treg) can suppress effector T cells specific for tumor antigens. Deeper molecular definitions of tumor-infiltrating-lymphocytes could thus offer therapeutic opportunities. Transcriptomes of T helper 1 (Th1), Th17, and Treg cells infiltrating colorectal or non-small-cell lung cancers were compared to transcriptomes of the same subsets from normal tissues and validated at the single-cell level. We found that tumor-infiltrating Treg cells were highly suppressive, upregulated several immune-checkpoints, and expressed on the cell surfaces specific signature molecules such as interleukin-1 receptor 2 (IL1R2), programmed death (PD)-1 Ligand1, PD-1 Ligand2, and CCR8 chemokine, which were not previously described on Treg cells. Remarkably, high expression in whole-tumor samples of Treg cell signature genes, such as LAYN, MAGEH1, or CCR8, correlated with poor prognosis. Our findings provide insights into the molecular identity and functions of human tumor-infiltrating Treg cells and define potential targets for tumor immunotherapy.
As SARS-CoV-2 infections and death counts continue to rise, it remains unclear why some individuals recover from infection, whereas others rapidly progress and die. Although the immunological mechanisms that underlie different clinical trajectories remain poorly defined, pathogen-specific antibodies often point to immunological mechanisms of protection. Here, we profiled SARS-CoV-2-specific humoral responses in a cohort of 22 hospitalized individuals. Despite inter-individual heterogeneity, distinct antibody signatures resolved individuals with different outcomes. Although no differences in SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG levels were observed, spike-specific humoral responses were enriched among convalescent individuals, whereas functional antibody responses to the nucleocapsid were elevated in deceased individuals. Furthermore, this enriched immunodominant spike-specific antibody profile in convalescents was confirmed in a larger validation cohort. These results demonstrate that early antigen-specific and qualitative features of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies point to differences in disease trajectory, highlighting the potential importance of functional antigen-specific humoral immunity to guide patient care and vaccine development.