Background: Characterizing the longevity and quality of cellular immune responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) enhances understanding of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) immunity that influences clinical outcomes. Prior studies suggest SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells are present in peripheral blood 10 months after infection. Analysis of the function, durability, and diversity of cellular response long after natural infection, over a range of ages and disease phenotypes, is needed to identify preventative and therapeutic interventions. Methods: We identified participants in our multisite longitudinal, prospective cohort study 12 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection representing a range of disease severity. We investigated function, phenotypes, and frequency of T cells specific for SARS-CoV-2 using intracellular cytokine staining and spectral flow cytometry, and compared magnitude of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies. Results: SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies and T cells were detected 12 months postinfection. Severe acute illness was associated with higher frequencies of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 T cells and antibodies at 12 months. In contrast, polyfunctional and cytotoxic T cells responsive to SARS-CoV-2 were identified in participants over a wide spectrum of disease severity. Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 infection induces polyfunctional memory T cells detectable at 12 months postinfection, with higher frequency noted in those who experienced severe disease.
- 12 months
- T cell