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SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells exhibit unique features characterized by robust helper function, lack of terminal differentiation, and high proliferative potential

Neidleman, J., Luo, X., Frouard, J.

Convalescing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients mount robust T cell responses against SARS-CoV-2, suggesting an important role of T cells in viral clearance. To date, the phenotypes of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells remain poorly defined. Using 38-parameter CyTOF, we phenotyped longitudinal specimens of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from nine individuals who recovered from mild COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cells were exclusively Th1 cells and predominantly Tcm cells with phenotypic features of robust helper function. SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cells were predominantly Temra cells in a state of less terminal differentiation than most Temra cells. Subsets of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells express CD127, can proliferate homeostatically, and can persist for over 2 months. Our results suggest that long-lived and robust T cell immunity is generated following natural SARS-CoV-2 infection and support an important role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in host control of COVID-19.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, T cells, CD127, IL7, homeostatic proliferation, CyTOF, convalescent individuals, mild COVID-19

Citation

Neidleman, J., Luo, X., Frouard, J. "SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells exhibit unique features characterized by robust helper function, lack of terminal differentiation, and high proliferative potential" Cell Reports Medicine (2020): doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2020.100081