BACKGROUND: Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a highly lethal respiratory disease caused by a zoonotic betacoronavirus. The development of effective vaccines and control measures requires a thorough understanding of the immune response to this viral infection. METHODS: We investigated cellular immune responses up to 5 years after infection in a cohort of 59 MERS survivors by performing enzyme-linked immunospot assay and intracellular cytokine staining after stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with synthetic viral peptides. RESULTS: Memory T-cell responses were detected in 82%, 75%, 69%, 64%, and 64% of MERS survivors from 1-5 years post-infection, respectively. Although the frequency of virus-specific interferon gamma (IFN-γ)-secreting T cells tended to be higher in moderately/severely ill patients than in mildly ill patients during the early period of follow-up, there was no significant difference among the different clinical severity groups across all time points. While both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were involved in memory T-cell responses, CD4+ T cells persisted slightly longer than CD8+ T cells. Both memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells recognized the E/M/N proteins better than the S protein and maintained their polyfunctionality throughout the period examined. Memory T-cell responses correlated positively with antibody responses during the initial 3-4 years but not with maximum viral loads at any time point. CONCLUSIONS: These findings advance our understanding of the dynamics of virus-specific memory T-cell immunity after MERS-coronavirus infection, which is relevant to the development of effective T cell-based vaccines.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America|
|State||Published - 10 Sep 2022|
- longitudinal analysis
- memory T cells