Durability of SARS-CoV-2-Specific T-Cell Responses at 12 Months Postinfection

Zhongyan Lu, Eric D. Laing, Jarina Pena Damata, Katherine Pohida, Marana S. Tso, Emily C. Samuels, Nusrat J. Epsi, Batsukh Dorjbal, Camille Lake, Stephanie A. Richard, Ryan C. Maves, David A. Lindholm, Julia S. Rozman, Caroline English, Nikhil Huprikar, Katrin Mende, Rhonda E. Colombo, Christopher J. Colombo, Christopher C. Broder, Anuradha GanesanCharlotte A. Lanteri, Brian K. Agan, David Tribble, Mark P. Simons, Clifton L. Dalgard, Paul W. Blair, Josh Chenoweth, Simon D. Pollett, Andrew L. Snow, Timothy H. Burgess, Allison M.W. Malloy*, J. Cowden, S. Deleon, A. Markelz, K. Mende, T. Merritt, S. Merritt, R. Walter, T. Wellington, S. Bazan, P. Kay, L. Brandon, N. Dimascio-Johnson, E. Ewers, K. Gallagher, D. Larson, M. Odom, A. Rutt, D. Clark, S. Chambers, C. Conlon, K. Everson, P. Faestel, T. Ferguson, L. Gordon, S. Grogan, S. Lis, C. Mount, D. Musfeldt, W. Robb-Mcgrath, R. Sainato, C. Schofield, C. Skinner, M. Stein, M. Switzer, M. Timlin, S. Wood, G. Atwood, S. Banks, R. Carpenter, C. Eickhoff, K. Kronmann, T. Lalani, T. Lee, A. Smith, R. Tant, T. Warkentien, J. Arnold, C. Berjohn, S. Cammarata, S. Husain, N. Kirkland, A. Lane, J. Parrish, G. Utz, S. Chi, E. Filan, K. Fong, T. Horseman, M. Jones, A. Kanis, A. Kayatani, W. Londeree, C. Madar, J. Masel, M. McMahon, K. Miyasato, G. Murphy, V. Ngauy, E. Schoenman, C. Uyehara, R. Villacorta Lyew, C. Byrne, K. Chung, C. Coles, C. Fox, M. Grother, D. Gunasekera, P. Hickey, J. Livezey, C. Morales, T. Oliver, E. Parmelee, J. Rusiecki, M. Sanchez-Edwards, A. Scher, A. Fries, I. Barahona, D. Gunasekera, M. Oyeneyin, M. Banda, B. Davis, T. Hunter, O. Ikpekpe-Magege, S. Kemp, R. Mody, R. Resendez, P. Sandoval, M. Wiggins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010-2019
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2021


  • 12 months
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • T cell
  • antibody
  • cytotoxicity
  • durability
  • memory
  • polyfunctionality


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