Antibody Response to a Nucleocapsid Epitope as a Marker for COVID-19 Disease Severity.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Sanjana R SenGregory A Weiss


Characterization of antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 is urgently needed to predict COVID-19 disease trajectories. Ineffective antibodies or antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) could derail patients' immune responses, for example. ELISA and coronavirus antigen microarray (COVAM) analysis epitope-mapped plasma from 86 COVID-19 patients. The experiments identified antibodies to a 21-residue epitope from nucleocapsid (termed Ep9) associated with severe disease, including ICU stay, requirement for ventilators, and death. Furthermore, anti-Ep9 antibodies correlate both with various comorbidities and ADE hallmarks, including increased IL-6 levels and early IgG response. Importantly, anti-Ep9 antibodies can be detected within five days post-symptom onset and sometimes within one day. The results lay the groundwork for a new type of COVID-19 diagnostic for the early prediction of disease severity to guide more effective therapeutic interventions. Antibodies targeting a specific location within a SARS-CoV-2 structural protein are linked to poor COVID-19 disease outcomes.

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