Single-cell transcriptomic atlas of individuals receiving inactivated COVID-19 vaccines reveals distinct immunological responses between vaccine and natural SARS-CoV-2 infection
Laurence Don Wai Luu,
Posted 31 Aug 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.30.21262863
Posted 31 Aug 2021
To control the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CoronaVac (Sinovac), an inactivated vaccine, has been granted emergency use authorization by many countries. However, the underlying mechanisms of the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine-induced immune response remain unclear, and little is known about its features compared to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here, we implemented single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to profile longitudinally collected PBMCs (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) in six individuals immunized with CoronaVac and compared these to the profiles of COVID-19 infected patients from a Single Cell Consortium. Both inactivated vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 infection drove changes in immune cell type proportions, caused B cell activation and differentiation, and induced the expression of genes associated with antibody production in the plasma. The inactivated vaccine and SARS-COV-2 infection also caused alterations in peripheral immune activity such as interferon response, inflammatory cytokine expression, innate immune cell apoptosis and migration, effector T cell exhaustion and cytotoxicity, however, the magnitude of change was greater in COVID-19 patients, especially those with severe disease, than in immunized individuals. Further analyses revealed a distinct peripheral immune cell phenotype associated with CoronaVac immunization (HLA class II upregulation and IL21R upregulation in naive B cells) versus SARS-CoV-2 infection (HLA class II downregulation and IL21R downregulation in naive B cells severe disease). There were also differences in the expression of important genes associated with proinflammatory cytokines and thrombosis. In conclusion, this study provides a single-cell atlas of the systemic immune response to CoronaVac immunization and reveals distinct immune responses between inactivated vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 infection.
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