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Longitudinal Analysis of Memory T-Cell Responses in Survivors of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

Cited 3 time in Web of Science Cited 2 time in Scopus

Shin, Hyoung Shik; Kim, Yeonjae; Kang, Jihye; Um, Jihye; Park, Jun Sun; Park, Wan Beom; Kim, Yeon Sook; Choi, Jae Phil; Rhee, Ji Young; Joh, Joon Sung; Cho, Nam Hyuk; Yang, Jeong Sun; Lee, Joo Yeon; Lim, Dong Gyun

Issue Date
University of Chicago Press
Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol.75 No.4, pp.596-603
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: 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.
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  • College of Medicine
  • Department of Medicine
Research Area Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Vaccination, 감염병, 바이러스질환, 예방접종


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