SARS-CoV-2 infection induces germinal center responses with robust stimulation of CD4 T follicular helper cells in rhesus macaques

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Sonny ElizaldiSmita S Iyer


ABSTRACTCD4 T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are important for the generation of long-lasting and specific humoral protection against viral infections. The degree to which SARS-CoV-2 infection generates Tfh cells and stimulates the germinal center response is an important question as we investigate vaccine options for the current pandemic. Here we report that, following infection with SARS-CoV-2, adult rhesus macaques exhibited transient accumulation of activated, proliferating Tfh cells in their peripheral blood on a transitory basis. The CD4 helper cell responses were skewed predominantly toward a Th1 response in blood, lung, and lymph nodes, reflective of the interferon-rich cytokine environment following infection. We also observed the generation of germinal center Tfh cells specific for the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins, and a corresponding early appearance of antiviral serum IgG antibodies but delayed or absent IgA antibodies. Our data suggest that a vaccine promoting Th1-type Tfh responses that target the S protein may lead to protective immunity.Competing Interest StatementA.S. is listed as inventors on a provisional patent application covering findings reported in this manuscript. A.S. is a consulta...Continue Reading

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