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Low dose mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine generates durable T cell memory and antibodies enhanced by pre-existing crossreactive T cell memory

By Jose Mateus, Jennifer M Dan, Zeli Zhang, Carolyn Rydyznski Moderbacher, Marshall Lammers, Benjamin Goodwin, Alessandro Sette, Shane Crotty, Daniela Weiskopf

Posted 05 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.30.21259787

Understanding human immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 RNA vaccines is of interest for a panoply of reasons. Here we examined vaccine-specific CD4+ T cell, CD8+ T cell, binding antibody, and neutralizing antibody responses to the 25 ug Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine over 7 months post-immunization, including multiple age groups, with a particular interest in assessing whether pre-existing crossreactive T cell memory impacts vaccine-generated immunity. Low dose (25 ug) mRNA-1273 elicited durable Spike binding antibodies comparable to that of convalescent COVID-19 cases. Vaccine-generated Spike memory CD4+ T cells 6 months post-boost were comparable in quantity and quality to COVID-19 cases, including the presence of TFH cells and IFNg-expressing cells. Spike CD8+ T cells were generated in 88% of subjects, with equivalent percentages of CD8+ T cell memory responders at 6 months post-boost compared to COVID-19 cases. Lastly, subjects with pre-existing crossreactive CD4+ T cell memory had increased CD4+ T cell and antibody responses to the vaccine, demonstrating a biological relevance of SARS-CoV-2 crossreactive CD4+ T cells.

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