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SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B cells can persist in the elderly who have lost detectable neutralising antibodies

Jeffery-Smith, A; Burton, AR; Lens, S; Rees-Spear, C; Davies, J; Patel, M; Gopal, R; ... Maini, MK; + view all (2022) SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B cells can persist in the elderly who have lost detectable neutralising antibodies. Journal of Clinical Investigation , 132 (2) , Article e152042.. 10.1172/JCI152042. Green open access

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Abstract

Memory B cells (MBC) can provide a recall response able to supplement waning antibodies with an affinity-matured response better able to neutralise variant viruses. We studied a cohort of elderly care home residents and younger staff (median age 87yrs and 56yrs respectively) who had survived COVID-19 outbreaks with only mild/asymptomatic infection. The cohort was selected to enrich for a high proportion who had lost neutralising antibodies (nAb), to specifically investigate the reserve immunity from SARS-CoV-2-specific MBC in this setting. Class-switched spike and RBD-tetramer-binding MBC persisted five months post-mild/asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, irrespective of age. The majority of spike/RBD-specific MBC had a classical phenotype but activated memory B cells, that may indicate ongoing antigenic stimulation or inflammation, were expanded in the elderly. Spike/RBD-specific MBC remained detectable in the majority who had lost nAb, although at lower frequencies and with a reduced IgG/IgA isotype ratio. Functional spike/S1/RBD-specific recall was also detectable by ELISpot in some who had lost nAb, but was significantly impaired in the elderly. Our findings demonstrate a reserve of SARS-CoV-2-specific MBC persists beyond loss of nAb, but highlight the need for careful monitoring of functional defects in spike/RBD-specific B cell immunity in the elderly.

Type: Article
Title: SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B cells can persist in the elderly who have lost detectable neutralising antibodies
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1172/JCI152042
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI152042
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2022 Jeffery-Smith et al. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Adaptive immunity, COVID-19, Immunoglobulins, Immunology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Infection and Immunity
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10139465
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