SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific memory B cells express higher levels of T-bet and FcRL5 after non-severe COVID-19 as compared to severe disease

Raphael A. Reyes, Kathleen Clarke, S. Jake Gonzales, Angelene M. Cantwell, Rolando Garza, Gabriel Catano, Robin E. Tragus, Thomas F. Patterson, Sebastiaan Bol, Evelien M. Bunnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

SARS-CoV-2 infection elicits a robust B cell response, resulting in the generation of longlived plasma cells and memory B cells. Here, we aimed to determine the effect of COVID-19 severity on the memory B cell response and characterize changes in the memory B cell compartment between recovery and five months post-symptom onset. Using high-parameter spectral flow cytometry, we analyzed the phenotype of memory B cells with reactivity against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein or the spike receptor binding domain (RBD) in recovered individuals who had been hospitalized with non-severe (n = 8) or severe (n = 5) COVID-19. One month after symptom onset, a substantial proportion of spike-specific IgG+ B cells showed an activated phenotype. In individuals who experienced non-severe disease, spike-specific IgG+ B cells showed increased expression of markers associated with durable B cell memory, including T-bet and FcRL5, as compared to individuals who experienced severe disease. While the frequency of T-bet+ spike-specific IgG+ B cells differed between the two groups, these cells predominantly showed an activated switched memory B cell phenotype in both groups. Five months post-symptom onset, the majority of spike-specific memory B cells had a resting phenotype and the percentage of spike-specific T-bet+ IgG+ memory B cells decreased to baseline levels. Collectively, our results highlight subtle differences in the B cells response after non-severe and severe COVID-19 and suggest that the memory B cell response elicited during non-severe COVID-19 may be of higher quality than the response after severe disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0261656
JournalPloS one
Volume16
Issue number12 December
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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