Generation of glucocorticoid resistant SARS-CoV-2 T-cells for adoptive cell therapy.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Rafet BasarKatayoun Rezvani


Adoptive cell therapy with viral-specific T cells has been successfully used to treat life-threatening viral infections, supporting the application of this approach against COVID-19. We expanded SARS-CoV-2 T-cells from the peripheral blood of COVID-19-recovered donors and non-exposed controls using different culture conditions. We observed that the choice of cytokines modulates the expansion, phenotype and hierarchy of antigenic recognition by SARS-CoV-2 T-cells. Culture with IL-2/4/7 but not other cytokine-driven conditions resulted in >1000 fold expansion in SARS-CoV-2 T-cells with a retained phenotype, function and hierarchy of antigenic recognition when compared to baseline (pre-expansion) samples. Expanded CTLs were directed against structural SARS-CoV-2 proteins, including the receptor-binding domain of Spike. SARS-CoV-2 T-cells could not be efficiently expanded from the peripheral blood of non-exposed controls. Since corticosteroids are used for the management of severe COVID-19, we developed an efficient strategy to inactivate the glucocorticoid receptor gene ( NR3C1 ) in SARS-CoV-2 CTLs using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

Methods Mentioned

genetic modification

Clinical Trials Mentioned


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