• Cellular and humoral immunogenicity of a SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine in patients on haemodialysis.

      Strengert, Monika; Becker, Matthias; Ramos, Gema Morillas; Dulovic, Alex; Gruber, Jens; Juengling, Jennifer; Lürken, Karsten; Beigel, Andrea; Wrenger, Eike; Lonnemann, Gerhard; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-08-12)
      Background: Patients with chronic renal insufficiency on maintenance haemodialysis face an increased risk of COVID-19 induced mortality and impaired vaccine responses. To date, only a few studies have addressed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine elicited immunity in this immunocompromised population. Methods: We assessed immunogenicity of the mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 in at-risk dialysis patients and characterised systemic cellular and humoral immune responses in serum and saliva using interferon γ release assay and multiplex-based cytokine and immunoglobulin measurements. We further compared binding capacity and neutralization efficacy of vaccination-induced immunoglobulins against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants Alpha, Beta, Epsilon and Cluster 5 by ACE2-RBD competition assay. Findings: Patients on maintenance haemodialysis exhibit detectable but variable cellular and humoral immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 and variants of concern after a two-dose regimen of BNT162b2. Although vaccination-induced immunoglobulins were detectable in saliva and plasma, both anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG and neutralization efficacy was reduced compared to a vaccinated non-dialysed control population. Similarly, T-cell mediated interferon γ release after stimulation with SARS-CoV-2 spike peptides was significantly diminished. Interpretation: Quantifiable humoral and cellular immune responses after BNT162b2 vaccination in individuals on maintenance haemodialysis are encouraging, but urge for longitudinal follow-up to assess longevity of immunity. Diminished virus neutralization and interferon γ responses in the face of emerging variants of concern may favour this at-risk population for re-vaccination using modified vaccines at the earliest opportunity. Funding: Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg for Economic Affairs, Labour and Tourism.
    • COVID-19 immune signatures reveal stable antiviral T cell function despite declining humoral responses.

      Bonifacius, Agnes; Tischer-Zimmermann, Sabine; Dragon, Anna C; Gussarow, Daniel; Vogel, Alexander; Krettek, Ulrike; Gödecke, Nina; Yilmaz, Mustafa; Kraft, Anke R M; Hoeper, Marius M; et al.
      Cellular and humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is critical to control primary infection and correlates with severity of disease. The role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity, its relationship to antibodies, and pre-existing immunity against endemic coronaviruses (huCoV), which has been hypothesized to be protective, were investigated in 82 healthy donors (HDs), 204 recovered (RCs), and 92 active COVID-19 patients (ACs). ACs had high amounts of anti-SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid and spike IgG but lymphopenia and overall reduced antiviral T cell responses due to the inflammatory milieu, expression of inhibitory molecules (PD-1, Tim-3) as well as effector caspase-3, -7, and -8 activity in T cells. SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity conferred by polyfunctional, mainly interferon-γ-secreting CD4+ T cells remained stable throughout convalescence, whereas humoral responses declined. Immune responses toward huCoV in RCs with mild disease and strong cellular SARS-CoV-2 T cell reactivity imply a protective role of pre-existing immunity against huCoV.
    • Immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants after heterologous and homologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/BNT162b2 vaccination.

      Barros-Martins, Joana; Hammerschmidt, Swantje I; Cossmann, Anne; Odak, Ivan; Stankov, Metodi V; Morillas Ramos, Gema; Dopfer-Jablonka, Alexandra; Heidemann, Annika; Ritter, Christiane; Friedrichsen, Michaela; et al. (Nature, 2021-07-14)
      Currently approved viral vector-based and mRNA-based vaccine approaches against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) consider only homologous prime-boost vaccination. After reports of thromboembolic events, several European governments recommended using AstraZeneca's ChAdOx1-nCov-19 (ChAd) only in individuals older than 60 years, leaving millions of already ChAd-primed individuals with the decision to receive either a second shot of ChAd or a heterologous boost with mRNA-based vaccines. However, such combinations have not been tested so far. We used Hannover Medical School's COVID-19 Contact Study cohort of healthcare professionals to monitor ChAd-primed immune responses before and 3 weeks after booster with ChAd (n = 32) or BioNTech/Pfizer's BNT162b2 (n = 55). Although both vaccines boosted prime-induced immunity, BNT162b2 induced significantly higher frequencies of spike-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and, in particular, high titers of neutralizing antibodies against the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants of concern of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.