Another win for natural immunity (pre-existing cross-reactive): Kundu et al: 'Cross-reactive memory T cells associate with protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in COVID-19 contacts'
by Paul Alexander
Another key study: pre-existing non-spike cross-reactive memory T cells protecting SARS-CoV-2-naïve contacts from infection
Kundu Cross-reactive memory T cells associate with protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in COVID-19 contacts
Why is this study important and adds to pre-existing protection against COVID virus that we have argued existed all along? Because it adds to the library of evidence that cross-reactive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 exists and adds to host protection.
“Cross-reactive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 have been observed in pre-pandemic cohorts and proposed to contribute to host protection. Here we assess 52 COVID-19 household contacts to capture immune responses at the earliest timepoints after SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Using a dual cytokine FLISpot assay on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we enumerate the frequency of T cells specific for spike, nucleocapsid, membrane, envelope and ORF1 SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that cross-react with human endemic coronaviruses. We observe higher frequencies of cross-reactive (p = 0.0139), and nucleocapsid-specific (p = 0.0355) IL-2-secreting memory T cells in contacts who remained PCR-negative despite exposure (n = 26), when compared with those who convert to PCR-positive (n = 26); no significant difference in the frequency of responses to spike is observed, hinting at a limited protective function of spike-cross-reactive T cells. Our results are thus consistent with pre-existing non-spike cross-reactive memory T cells protecting SARS-CoV-2-naïve contacts from infection, thereby supporting the inclusion of non-spike antigens in second-generation vaccines.”
“It is conceivable that reports of T cell responses without seroconversion could be related to rapid expansion of pre-existing cross-reactive T cells promptly controlling infection and thereby abrogating subsequent induction of de novo SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody responses.”
Sekine, T. et al. Robust T Cell Immunity in Convalescent Individuals with Asymptomatic or Mild COVID-19. Cell 183, 158–168.e14 (2020).
Reynolds, C. J. et al. Discordant neutralizing antibody and T cell responses in asymptomatic and mild SARS-CoV-2 infection. Sci. Immunol. 5, 54 (2020).