Publications by authors named "Galit Alter"

294 Publications

A modified vaccinia Ankara vector-based vaccine protects macaques from SARS-CoV-2 infection, immune pathology, and dysfunction in the lungs.

Immunity 2021 Feb 4. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Emory Vaccine Center, Division of Microbiology and Immunology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. Electronic address:

A combination of vaccination approaches will likely be necessary to fully control the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Here, we show that modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vectors expressing membrane-anchored pre-fusion stabilized spike (MVA/S) but not secreted S1 induced strong neutralizing antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 in mice. In macaques, the MVA/S vaccination induced strong neutralizing antibodies and CD8 T cell responses, and conferred protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection and virus replication in the lungs as early as day 2 following intranasal and intratracheal challenge. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis of lung cells on day 4 after infection revealed that MVA/S vaccination also protected macaques from infection-induced inflammation and B cell abnormalities and lowered induction of interferon-stimulated genes. These results demonstrate that MVA/S vaccination induces neutralizing antibodies and CD8 T cells in the blood and lungs and is a potential vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2021.02.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7859620PMC
February 2021

Comorbid illnesses are associated with altered adaptive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2.

JCI Insight 2021 Feb 23. Epub 2021 Feb 23.

Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, United States of America.

Comorbid medical illnesses, such as obesity and diabetes, are associated with more severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death. However, the role of the immune system in mediating these clinical outcomes has not been determined. We used multi-parameter flow cytometry and systems serology to comprehensively profile the functions of T cells and antibodies targeting spike, nucleocapsid, and envelope proteins in a convalescent cohort of COVID-19 subjects who were either hospitalized (n=20) or not hospitalized (n=40). To avoid confounding, subjects were matched by age, sex, ethnicity, and date of symptom onset. Surprisingly, we found that the magnitude and functional breadth of virus-specific CD4 T cell and antibody responses were consistently higher among hospitalized subjects, particularly those with medical comorbidities. However, an integrated analysis identified more coordination between polyfunctional CD4 T-cells and antibodies targeting the S1 domain of spike among subjects that were not hospitalized. These data reveal a functionally diverse and coordinated response between T cells and antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2, which is reduced in the presence of comorbid illnesses that are known risk factors for severe COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.146242DOI Listing
February 2021

Collaboration between the Fab and Fc contribute to maximal protection against SARS-CoV-2 following NVX-CoV2373 subunit vaccine with Matrix-M™ vaccination.

Res Sq 2021 Feb 15. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Recently approved vaccines have already shown remarkable protection in limiting SARS-CoV-2 associated disease. However, immunologic mechanism(s) of protection, as well as how boosting alters immunity to wildtype and newly emerging strains, remain incompletely understood. Here we deeply profiled the humoral immune response in a cohort of non-human primates immunized with a stable recombinant full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein (NVX-CoV2373) at two dose levels, administered as a single or two-dose regimen with a saponin-based adjuvant Matrix-M™. While antigen dose had some effect on Fc-effector profiles, both antigen dose and boosting significantly altered overall titers, neutralization and Fc-effector profiles, driving unique vaccine-induced antibody fingerprints. Combined differences in antibody effector functions and neutralization were strongly associated with distinct levels of protection in the upper and lower respiratory tract, pointing to the presence of combined, but distinct, compartment-specific neutralization and Fc-mechanisms as key determinants of protective immunity against infection. Moreover, NVX-CoV2373 elicited antibodies functionally target emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, collectively pointing to the critical collaborative role for Fab and Fc in driving maximal protection against SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, the data presented here suggest that a single dose may prevent disease, but that two doses may be essential to block further transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-200342/v1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7899467PMC
February 2021

Adjuvanting a subunit SARS-CoV-2 nanoparticle vaccine to induce protective immunity in non-human primates.

bioRxiv 2021 Feb 11. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

The development of a portfolio of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to vaccinate the global population remains an urgent public health imperative. Here, we demonstrate the capacity of a subunit vaccine under clinical development, comprising the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein receptor-binding domain displayed on a two-component protein nanoparticle (RBD-NP), to stimulate robust and durable neutralizing antibody (nAb) responses and protection against SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primates. We evaluated five different adjuvants combined with RBD-NP including Essai O/W 1849101, a squalene-in-water emulsion; AS03, an alpha-tocopherol-containing squalene-based oil-in-water emulsion used in pandemic influenza vaccines; AS37, a TLR-7 agonist adsorbed to Alum; CpG 1018-Alum (CpG-Alum), a TLR-9 agonist formulated in Alum; or Alum, the most widely used adjuvant. All five adjuvants induced substantial nAb and CD4 T cell responses after two consecutive immunizations. Durable nAb responses were evaluated for RBD-NP/AS03 immunization and the live-virus nAb response was durably maintained up to 154 days post-vaccination. AS03, CpG-Alum, AS37 and Alum groups conferred significant protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the pharynges, nares and in the bronchoalveolar lavage. The nAb titers were highly correlated with protection against infection. Furthermore, RBD-NP when used in conjunction with AS03 was as potent as the prefusion stabilized Spike immunogen, HexaPro. Taken together, these data highlight the efficacy of the RBD-NP formulated with clinically relevant adjuvants in promoting robust immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.10.430696DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7885918PMC
February 2021

Humoral signatures of protective and pathological SARS-CoV-2 infection in children.

Nat Med 2021 Feb 12. Epub 2021 Feb 12.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic continues to spread relentlessly, associated with a high frequency of respiratory failure and mortality. Children experience largely asymptomatic disease, with rare reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Identifying immune mechanisms that result in these disparate clinical phenotypes in children could provide critical insights into coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pathogenesis. Using systems serology, in this study we observed in 25 children with acute mild COVID-19 a functional phagocyte and complement-activating IgG response to SARS-CoV-2, similar to the acute responses generated in adults with mild disease. Conversely, IgA and neutrophil responses were significantly expanded in adults with severe disease. Moreover, weeks after the resolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection, children who develop MIS-C maintained highly inflammatory monocyte-activating SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies, distinguishable from acute disease in children but with antibody levels similar to those in convalescent adults. Collectively, these data provide unique insights into the potential mechanisms of IgG and IgA that might underlie differential disease severity as well as unexpected complications in children infected with SARS-CoV-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01263-3DOI Listing
February 2021

Discrete SARS-CoV-2 antibody titers track with functional humoral stability.

Nat Commun 2021 02 15;12(1):1018. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Antibodies serve as biomarkers of infection, but if sustained can confer long-term immunity. Yet, for most clinically approved vaccines, binding antibody titers only serve as a surrogate of protection. Instead, the ability of vaccine induced antibodies to neutralize or mediate Fc-effector functions is mechanistically linked to protection. While evidence has begun to point to persisting antibody responses among SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals, cases of re-infection have begun to emerge, calling the protective nature of humoral immunity against this highly infectious pathogen into question. Using a community-based surveillance study, we aimed to define the relationship between titers and functional antibody activity to SARS-CoV-2 over time. Here we report significant heterogeneity, but limited decay, across antibody titers amongst 120 identified seroconverters, most of whom had asymptomatic infection. Notably, neutralization, Fc-function, and SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell responses were only observed in subjects that elicited RBD-specific antibody titers above a threshold. The findings point to a switch-like relationship between observed antibody titer and function, where a distinct threshold of activity-defined by the level of antibodies-is required to elicit vigorous humoral and cellular response. This response activity level may be essential for durable protection, potentially explaining why re-infections occur with SARS-CoV-2 and other common coronaviruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21336-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884400PMC
February 2021

Antibodies for Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 Cure Strategies.

J Infect Dis 2021 Feb;223(Supplement_1):22-31

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection leads to the establishment of a long-lived latent cellular reservoir. One strategy to eliminate quiescent reservoir cells is to reactivate virus replication to induce HIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) expression on the cell surface exposing them to subsequent antibody targeting. Via the interactions between the antibody Fc domain and Fc-γ receptors (FcγRs) that are expressed on innate effector cells, such as natural killer cells, monocytes, and neutrophils, antibodies can mediate the elimination of infected cells. Over the last decade, a multitude of human monoclonal antibodies that are broadly neutralizing across many HIV-1 subtypes have been identified and are currently being explored for HIV eradication strategies. Antibody development also includes novel Fc engineering approaches to increase engagement of effector cells and optimize antireservoir efficacy. In this review, we discuss the usefulness of antibodies for HIV eradication approaches specifically focusing on antibody-mediated strategies to target latently infected cells and options to increase antibody efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiaa165DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7883024PMC
February 2021

Tissues: the unexplored frontier of antibody mediated immunity.

Curr Opin Virol 2021 Feb 10;47:52-67. Epub 2021 Feb 10.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

Pathogen-specific immunity evolves in the context of the infected tissue. However, current immune correlates analyses and vaccine efficacy metrics are based on immune functions from peripheral cells. Less is known about tissue-resident mechanisms of immunity. While antibodies represent the primary correlate of immunity following most clinically approved vaccines, how antibodies interact with localized, compartment-specific immune functions to fight infections, remains unclear. Emerging data demonstrate a unique community of immune cells that reside within different tissues. These tissue-specific immunological communities enable antibodies to direct both expected and unexpected local attack strategies to control, disrupt, and eliminate infection in a tissue-specific manner. Defining the full breadth of antibody effector functions, how they selectively contribute to control at the site of infection may provide clues for the design of next-generation vaccines able to direct the control, elimination, and prevention of compartment specific diseases of both infectious and non-infectious etiologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.coviro.2021.01.001DOI Listing
February 2021

Targeting HIV Env immunogens to B cell follicles in nonhuman primates through immune complex or protein nanoparticle formulations.

NPJ Vaccines 2020 Aug 5;5(1):72. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.

Following immunization, high-affinity antibody responses develop within germinal centers (GCs), specialized sites within follicles of the lymph node (LN) where B cells proliferate and undergo somatic hypermutation. Antigen availability within GCs is important, as B cells must acquire and present antigen to follicular helper T cells to drive this process. However, recombinant protein immunogens such as soluble human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope (Env) trimers do not efficiently accumulate in follicles following traditional immunization. Here, we demonstrate two strategies to concentrate HIV Env immunogens in follicles, via the formation of immune complexes (ICs) or by employing self-assembling protein nanoparticles for multivalent display of Env antigens. Using rhesus macaques, we show that within a few days following immunization, free trimers were present in a diffuse pattern in draining LNs, while trimer ICs and Env nanoparticles accumulated in B cell follicles. Whole LN imaging strikingly revealed that ICs and trimer nanoparticles concentrated in as many as 500 follicles in a single LN within two days after immunization. Imaging of LNs collected seven days postimmunization showed that Env nanoparticles persisted on follicular dendritic cells in the light zone of nascent GCs. These findings suggest that the form of antigen administered in vaccination can dramatically impact localization in lymphoid tissues and provides a new rationale for the enhanced immune responses observed following immunization with ICs or nanoparticles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41541-020-00223-1DOI Listing
August 2020

Collaboration between the Fab and Fc contribute to maximal protection against SARS-CoV-2 in nonhuman primates following NVX-CoV2373 subunit vaccine with Matrix-M™ vaccination.

bioRxiv 2021 Feb 5. Epub 2021 Feb 5.

Recently approved vaccines have already shown remarkable protection in limiting SARS-CoV-2 associated disease. However, immunologic mechanism(s) of protection, as well as how boosting alters immunity to wildtype and newly emerging strains, remain incompletely understood. Here we deeply profiled the humoral immune response in a cohort of non-human primates immunized with a stable recombinant full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein (NVX-CoV2373) at two dose levels, administered as a single or two-dose regimen with a saponin-based adjuvant Matrix-M™. While antigen dose had some effect on Fc-effector profiles, both antigen dose and boosting significantly altered overall titers, neutralization and Fc-effector profiles, driving unique vaccine-induced antibody fingerprints. Combined differences in antibody effector functions and neutralization were strongly associated with distinct levels of protection in the upper and lower respiratory tract, pointing to the presence of combined, but distinct, compartment-specific neutralization and Fc-mechanisms as key determinants of protective immunity against infection. Moreover, NVX-CoV2373 elicited antibodies functionally target emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, collectively pointing to the critical collaborative role for Fab and Fc in driving maximal protection against SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, the data presented here suggest that a single dose may prevent disease, but that two doses may be essential to block further transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants.

Highlights: NVX-CoV2373 subunit vaccine elicits receptor blocking, virus neutralizing antibodies, and Fc-effector functional antibodies.The vaccine protects against respiratory tract infection and virus shedding in non-human primates (NHPs).Both neutralizing and Fc-effector functions contribute to protection, potentially through different mechanisms in the upper and lower respiratory tract.Both macaque and human vaccine-induced antibodies exhibit altered Fc-receptor binding to emerging mutants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.05.429759DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7872351PMC
February 2021

Production of HIV-1 Env-specific antibodies mediating innate immune functions depends on cognate IL-21- secreting CD4+ T cells.

J Virol 2021 Jan 27. Epub 2021 Jan 27.

Institute of Virology, University Hospital, University of Bonn, Germany, and German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), partner site Bonn-Cologne, Germany

Antibodies with a functional Fc region were previously associated with protection from HIV-1 acquisition and spontaneous suppression of viral replication. Unlike broadly neutralizing antibodies, they are not restricted to neutralizing epitopes and do not require unconventional structural traits to exert their antiviral activity. They, therefore, develop earlier after infection and can be detected in the majority of cases. The conditions under which these antibodies are generated, however, remain largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the generation of HIV-1 Env-specific antibodies facilitating Fc-dependent innate immune responses, including neutrophil phagocytosis (ADNP), complement deposition (ADCD), and NK cell activation, likely depends on help provided by CD4+ T and peripheral T follicular helper (pTfh) cells secreting IL-21. Other proteins, including CD40L, IFNγ, and IL-4/13, involved in crosstalk between B and T cells were linked to the production of antibodies with functional Fc region but only when co-expressed with IL-21. As a potential source of these antibodies, we identified a subset of Env-specific memory B cells known to be expanded in chronic HIV-1 infection. The frequency and level of Blimp-1 expression in Env-specific tissue-like memory B cells (TLM) correlated with the functional CD4+ T cell subsets associated with robust antibody-dependent innate responses. Thus, our data suggest a mechanism responsible for the generation of antibodies with functional Fc region in chronically HIV-1 infected individuals that is based on CD4+ T cell-induced activation of memory B cells. To develop a vaccine or immunotherapy that would cure the HIV-1 infection it is important to identify helper T cells able to mount an efficient antibody response. Here, we demonstrate that the generation of HIV-1 Env-specific antibodies facilitating antibody-dependent innate immune responses likely depends on Env-specific IL-21-secreting CD4+ T and peripheral T follicular helper cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02097-20DOI Listing
January 2021

Compromised SARS-CoV-2-specific placental antibody transfer.

Cell 2021 02 23;184(3):628-642.e10. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

SARS-CoV-2 infection causes more severe disease in pregnant women compared to age-matched non-pregnant women. Whether maternal infection causes changes in the transfer of immunity to infants remains unclear. Maternal infections have previously been associated with compromised placental antibody transfer, but the mechanism underlying this compromised transfer is not established. Here, we used systems serology to characterize the Fc profile of influenza-, pertussis-, and SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies transferred across the placenta. Influenza- and pertussis-specific antibodies were actively transferred. However, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody transfer was significantly reduced compared to influenza- and pertussis-specific antibodies, and cord titers and functional activity were lower than in maternal plasma. This effect was only observed in third-trimester infection. SARS-CoV-2-specific transfer was linked to altered SARS-CoV-2-antibody glycosylation profiles and was partially rescued by infection-induced increases in IgG and increased FCGR3A placental expression. These results point to unexpected compensatory mechanisms to boost immunity in neonates, providing insights for maternal vaccine design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.12.027DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7755577PMC
February 2021

Dissecting strategies to tune the therapeutic potential of SARS-CoV-2-specific monoclonal antibody CR3022.

JCI Insight 2021 01 11;6(1). Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

The rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), coupled with a lack of therapeutics, has paralyzed the globe. Although significant effort has been invested in identifying antibodies that block infection, the ability of antibodies to target infected cells through Fc interactions may be vital to eliminate the virus. To explore the role of Fc activity in SARS-CoV-2 immunity, the functional potential of a cross-SARS-reactive antibody, CR3022, was assessed. CR3022 was able to broadly drive antibody effector functions, providing critical immune clearance at entry and upon egress. Using selectively engineered Fc variants, no protection was observed after administration of WT IgG1 in mice or hamsters. Conversely, the functionally enhanced Fc variant resulted in increased pathology in both the mouse and hamster models, causing weight loss in mice and enhanced viral replication and weight loss in the more susceptible hamster model, highlighting the pathological functions of Fc-enhancing mutations. These data point to the critical need for strategic Fc engineering for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.143129DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7821590PMC
January 2021

COVID-19-neutralizing antibodies predict disease severity and survival.

Cell 2021 01 15;184(2):476-488.e11. Epub 2020 Dec 15.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) exhibits variable symptom severity ranging from asymptomatic to life-threatening, yet the relationship between severity and the humoral immune response is poorly understood. We examined antibody responses in 113 COVID-19 patients and found that severe cases resulting in intubation or death exhibited increased inflammatory markers, lymphopenia, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and high anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) antibody levels. Although anti-RBD immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels generally correlated with neutralization titer, quantitation of neutralization potency revealed that high potency was a predictor of survival. In addition to neutralization of wild-type SARS-CoV-2, patient sera were also able to neutralize the recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 mutant D614G, suggesting cross-protection from reinfection by either strain. However, SARS-CoV-2 sera generally lacked cross-neutralization to a highly homologous pre-emergent bat coronavirus, WIV1-CoV, which has not yet crossed the species barrier. These results highlight the importance of neutralizing humoral immunity on disease progression and the need to develop broadly protective interventions to prevent future coronavirus pandemics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.12.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7837114PMC
January 2021

Liver Fibrosis Index FIB-4 Is Associated With Mortality in COVID-19.

Hepatol Commun 2020 Dec 10. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Division of Infectious Diseases Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston MA USA.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with adverse outcomes, including need for invasive mechanical ventilation and death in people with risk factors. Liver enzyme elevation is commonly seen in this group, but its clinical significance remains elusive. In this study, we calculated the Fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) score for a cohort of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and assessed its association with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA, inflammatory cytokine levels, and clinical outcome. A total of 202 hospitalized participants who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by nasopharyngeal sampling were included in this analysis. FIB-4 was calculated for each participant using the alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, age, and platelet count. We evaluated the association between FIB-4 and mortality using both multivariate logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards model. Correlations between FIB-4 and SARS-CoV-2 RNA and cytokine levels were evaluated using the Spearman test. Among the 202 participants, 22 died. The median FIB-4 in participants who survived and died were 1.91 and 3.98 ( < 0.001 by Mann-Whitney U test), respectively. Each one-unit increment in FIB-4 was associated with an increased odds of death (odds ratio, 1.79; 95% confidence interval, 1.36, 2.35;  < 0.001) after adjusting for baseline characteristics including sex, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes, and history of liver diseases. During hospitalization, FIB-4 peaked and then normalized in the survival group but failed to normalize in the death group. FIB-4 was positively correlated with the level of SARS-CoV-2 viral load and monocyte-associated cytokines, especially interleukin-6 and interferon gamma-induced protein 10. FIB-4 is associated with mortality in COVID-19, independent of underlying conditions including liver diseases. FIB-4 may be a simple and inexpensive approach to risk-stratify individuals with COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep4.1650DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7753559PMC
December 2020

Distinct Immunoglobulin Fc Glycosylation Patterns Are Associated with Disease Nonprogression and Broadly Neutralizing Antibody Responses in Children with HIV Infection.

mSphere 2020 12 23;5(6). Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

A prophylactic HIV vaccine would ideally induce protective immunity prior to sexual debut. Children develop broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) responses faster and at higher frequencies than adults, but little is known about the underlying mechanisms or the potential role of Fc-mediated effector functions in disease progression. We therefore performed systems immunology, with immunoglobulin profiling, on HIV-infected children with progressive and nonprogressive disease. Pediatric nonprogressors (PNPs) showed distinct immunoglobulin profiles with an increased ability to elicit potent Fc-mediated natural killer (NK)-cell effector functions. In contrast to previous reports in adults, both groups of children showed high levels of gp120-specific IgG Fc glycan sialylation compared to bulk IgG. Importantly, higher levels of Fc glycan sialylation were associated with increased bnAb breadth, providing the first evidence that Fc sialylation may drive affinity maturation of HIV-specific antibodies in children, a mechanism that could be exploited for vaccination strategies. To protect future generations against HIV, a vaccine will need to induce immunity by the time of sexual debut and hence requires immunization during childhood. Current strategies for a prophylactic HIV vaccine include the induction of a broadly neutralizing antibody response and the recruitment of potent effector functions of immune cells via the constant antibody Fc region. In this study, we show that nonprogressing HIV-infected children mounted antibody responses against HIV that were able to mediate potent Fc effector functions, which may contribute to the control of HIV replication. Children who had specific glycan structures on the Fc portion of antibodies against HIV were able to neutralize a broader range of HIV variants, providing evidence of a potential role of Fc glycovariation in the development of bnAbs against HIV. These findings complement our knowledge of the distinct immune landscape in early life that could be exploited in the development of vaccine strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00880-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7763548PMC
December 2020

Assessment of Maternal and Neonatal SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load, Transplacental Antibody Transfer, and Placental Pathology in Pregnancies During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

JAMA Netw Open 2020 12 1;3(12):e2030455. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Importance: Biological data are lacking with respect to risk of vertical transmission and mechanisms of fetoplacental protection in maternal severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.

Objective: To quantify SARS-CoV-2 viral load in maternal and neonatal biofluids, transplacental passage of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody, and incidence of fetoplacental infection.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This cohort study was conducted among pregnant women presenting for care at 3 tertiary care centers in Boston, Massachusetts. Women with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results positive for SARS-CoV-2 were recruited from April 2 to June 13, 2020, and follow-up occurred through July 10, 2020. Contemporaneous participants without SARS-CoV-2 infection were enrolled as a convenience sample from pregnant women with RT-PCR results negative for SARS-CoV-2.

Exposures: SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy, defined by nasopharyngeal swab RT-PCR.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The main outcomes were SARS-CoV-2 viral load in maternal plasma or respiratory fluids and umbilical cord plasma, quantification of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in maternal and cord plasma, and presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the placenta.

Results: Among 127 pregnant women enrolled, 64 with RT-PCR results positive for SARS-CoV-2 (mean [SD] age, 31.6 [5.6] years) and 63 with RT-PCR results negative for SARS-CoV-2 (mean [SD] age, 33.9 [5.4] years) provided samples for analysis. Of women with SARS-CoV-2 infection, 23 (36%) were asymptomatic, 22 (34%) had mild disease, 7 (11%) had moderate disease, 10 (16%) had severe disease, and 2 (3%) had critical disease. In viral load analyses among 107 women, there was no detectable viremia in maternal or cord blood and no evidence of vertical transmission. Among 77 neonates tested in whom SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were quantified in cord blood, 1 had detectable immunoglobuilin M to nucleocapsid. Among 88 placentas tested, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detected in any. In antibody analyses among 37 women with SARS-CoV-2 infection, anti-receptor binding domain immunoglobin G was detected in 24 women (65%) and anti-nucleocapsid was detected in 26 women (70%). Mother-to-neonate transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was significantly lower than transfer of anti-influenza hemagglutinin A antibodies (mean [SD] cord-to-maternal ratio: anti-receptor binding domain immunoglobin G, 0.72 [0.57]; anti-nucleocapsid, 0.74 [0.44]; anti-influenza, 1.44 [0.80]; P < .001). Nonoverlapping placental expression of SARS-CoV-2 receptors angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and transmembrane serine protease 2 was noted.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this cohort study, there was no evidence of placental infection or definitive vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Transplacental transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was inefficient. Lack of viremia and reduced coexpression and colocalization of placental angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and transmembrane serine protease 2 may serve as protective mechanisms against vertical transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.30455DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7756241PMC
December 2020

HIV Antibody Fc N-Linked Glycosylation Is Associated with Viral Rebound.

Cell Rep 2020 Dec;33(11):108502

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

Changes in antibody glycosylation are linked to inflammation across several diseases. Alterations in bulk antibody galactosylation can predict rheumatic flares, act as a sensor for immune activation, predict gastric cancer relapse, track with biological age, shift with vaccination, change with HIV reservoir size on therapy, and decrease in HIV and HCV infections. However, whether changes in antibody Fc biology also track with reservoir rebound time remains unclear. The identification of a biomarker that could forecast viral rebound time could significantly accelerate the downselection and iterative improvement of promising HIV viral eradication strategies. Using a comprehensive antibody Fc-profiling approach, the level of HIV-specific antibody Fc N-galactosylation is significantly associated with time to rebound after treatment discontinuation across three independent cohorts. Thus virus-specific antibody glycosylation may represent a promising, simply measured marker to track reservoir reactivation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108502DOI Listing
December 2020

RV144 HIV-1 vaccination impacts post-infection antibody responses.

PLoS Pathog 2020 12 8;16(12):e1009101. Epub 2020 Dec 8.

U.S. Military HIV Research Program, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America.

The RV144 vaccine efficacy clinical trial showed a reduction in HIV-1 infections by 31%. Vaccine efficacy was associated with stronger binding antibody responses to the HIV Envelope (Env) V1V2 region, with decreased efficacy as responses wane. High levels of Ab-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) together with low plasma levels of Env-specific IgA also correlated with decreased infection risk. We investigated whether B cell priming from RV144 vaccination impacted functional antibody responses to HIV-1 following infection. Antibody responses were assessed in 37 vaccine and 63 placebo recipients at 6, 12, and 36 months following HIV diagnosis. The magnitude, specificity, dynamics, subclass recognition and distribution of the binding antibody response following infection were different in RV144 vaccine recipients compared to placebo recipients. Vaccine recipients demonstrated increased IgG1 binding specifically to V1V2, as well as increased IgG2 and IgG4 but decreased IgG3 to HIV-1 Env. No difference in IgA binding to HIV-1 Env was detected between the vaccine and placebo recipients following infection. RV144 vaccination limited the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies post-infection, but enhanced Fc-mediated effector functions indicating B cell priming by RV144 vaccination impacted downstream antibody function. However, these functional responses were not associated with clinical markers of disease progression. These data reveal that RV144 vaccination primed B cells towards specific binding and functional antibody responses following HIV-1 infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1009101DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7748270PMC
December 2020

Correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques.

Nature 2021 02 4;590(7847):630-634. Epub 2020 Dec 4.

Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Recent studies have reported the protective efficacy of both natural and vaccine-induced immunity against challenge with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in rhesus macaques. However, the importance of humoral and cellular immunity for protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2 remains to be determined. Here we show that the adoptive transfer of purified IgG from convalescent rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) protects naive recipient macaques against challenge with SARS-CoV-2 in a dose-dependent fashion. Depletion of CD8 T cells in convalescent macaques partially abrogated the protective efficacy of natural immunity against rechallenge with SARS-CoV-2, which suggests a role for cellular immunity in the context of waning or subprotective antibody titres. These data demonstrate that relatively low antibody titres are sufficient for protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques, and that cellular immune responses may contribute to protection if antibody responses are suboptimal. We also show that higher antibody titres are required for treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection in macaques. These findings have implications for the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and immune-based therapeutic agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-03041-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7906955PMC
February 2021

T cell and antibody functional correlates of severe COVID-19.

medRxiv 2020 Nov 30. Epub 2020 Nov 30.

Comorbid medical illnesses, such as obesity and diabetes, are associated with more severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death. However, the role of the immune system in mediating these clinical outcomes has not been determined. We used multi-parameter flow cytometry and systems serology to comprehensively profile the functions of T cells and antibodies targeting spike, nucleocapsid, and envelope proteins in a convalescent cohort of COVID-19 subjects who were either hospitalized (n=20) or not hospitalized (n=40). To avoid confounding, subjects were matched by age, sex, ethnicity, and date of symptom onset. Surprisingly, we found that the magnitude and functional breadth of virus-specific CD4 T cell and antibody responses were consistently higher among hospitalized subjects, particularly those with medical comorbidities. However, an integrated analysis identified more coordination between polyfunctional CD4 T-cells and antibodies targeting the S1 domain of spike among subjects that were not hospitalized. These data reveal a functionally diverse and coordinated response between T cells and antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 which is reduced in the presence of comorbid illnesses that are known risk factors for severe COVID-19. Our data suggest that isolated measurements of the magnitudes of spike-specific immune responses are likely insufficient to anticipate vaccine efficacy in high-risk populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.11.25.20235150DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7709190PMC
November 2020

Compromised Humoral Functional Evolution Tracks with SARS-CoV-2 Mortality.

Cell 2020 12 3;183(6):1508-1519.e12. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA. Electronic address:

The urgent need for an effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has forced development to progress in the absence of well-defined correlates of immunity. While neutralization has been linked to protection against other pathogens, whether neutralization alone will be sufficient to drive protection against SARS-CoV-2 in the broader population remains unclear. Therefore, to fully define protective humoral immunity, we dissected the early evolution of the humoral response in 193 hospitalized individuals ranging from moderate to severe. Although robust IgM and IgA responses evolved in both survivors and non-survivors with severe disease, non-survivors showed attenuated IgG responses, accompanied by compromised Fcɣ receptor binding and Fc effector activity, pointing to deficient humoral development rather than disease-enhancing humoral immunity. In contrast, individuals with moderate disease exhibited delayed responses that ultimately matured. These data highlight distinct humoral trajectories associated with resolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the need for early functional humoral immunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.052DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608014PMC
December 2020

Epidemiological and immunological features of obesity and SARS-CoV-2.

medRxiv 2020 Nov 13. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

Obesity is established as a key correlate of severe SARS-CoV-2 outcomes. Multiple other epidemiological and immunological features are less well-defined including if obesity enhances susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection, influences symptom phenotype, or impedes or alters the immune response to infection. Given the substantial global burden of obesity and given these uncertainties, we examined the epidemiology and immunology of obesity and SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: Industry employees were invited to participate in a prospective SARS-CoV-2 serology-based cohort study. Blood and baseline survey measures that included demographics, comorbidities, and prior COVID-19 compatible symptoms were collected. Serological testing and interim symptom reporting were conducted monthly. SARS-CoV-2 immunoassays included an IgG ELISA targeting the spike RBD, multiarray Luminex targeting 20 viral antigens, pseudovirus neutralization, and T cell ELISPOT assays. Unadjusted and adjusted analyses were used to identify differences in seroprevalence, clinical features, and immune parameters by BMI.

Results: Of 4469 individuals enrolled, 322 (7.21%) were seropositive. Adjusted seroprevalence was non-significantly lower with higher BMI. Obesity was associated with increased reporting of fever (OR 3.43 [95% CI 1.58-7.60]) and multiple other symptoms and aggregate measures. There were no identifiable differences in immune response between obese and non-obese individuals.

Discussion: We present benchmark data from a prospective serology-based cohort on the immunoepidemiology of BMI and SARS-CoV-2. Our findings suggest obesity is not linked to an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection; that symptom phenotype is strongly influenced by obesity; and that despite evidence of obesity-associated immune dysregulation in severe COVID-19, there is no evidence of a muted or suppressed immune response across multiple immune measures among non-severe infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.11.11.20229724DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7668749PMC
November 2020

Mucosal Therapy of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis With IgA and Interferon-γ.

Front Immunol 2020 20;11:582833. Epub 2020 Oct 20.

Institute for Infection and Immunity, St. George's University, London, United Kingdom.

New evidence has been emerging that antibodies can be protective in various experimental models of tuberculosis. Here, we report on protection against multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) infection using a combination of the human monoclonal IgA 2E9 antibody against the alpha-crystallin (Acr, HspX) antigen and mouse interferon-gamma in mice transgenic for the human IgA receptor, CD89. The effect of the combined mucosal IgA and IFN-γ; treatment was strongest (50-fold reduction) when therapy was applied at the time of infection, but a statistically significant reduction of lung bacterial load was observed even when the therapy was initiated once the infection had already been established. The protection involving enhanced phagocytosis and then neutrophil mediated killing of infected cells was IgA isotype mediated, because treatment with an IgG version of 2E9 antibody was not effective in human IgG receptor CD64 transgenic mice. The Acr antigen specificity of IgA antibodies for protection in humans has been indicated by their elevated serum levels in latent tuberculosis unlike the lack of IgA antibodies against the virulence-associated MPT64 antigen. Our results represent the first evidence for potential translation of mucosal immunotherapy for the management of MDR-TB.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.582833DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7606302PMC
October 2020

Vi-specific serological correlates of protection for typhoid fever.

J Exp Med 2021 02;218(2)

Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Pediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Typhoid Vi vaccines have been shown to be efficacious in children living in endemic regions; however, a widely accepted correlate of protection remains to be established. We applied a systems serology approach to identify Vi-specific serological correlates of protection using samples obtained from participants enrolled in an experimental controlled human infection study. Participants were vaccinated with Vi-tetanus toxoid conjugate (Vi-TT) or unconjugated Vi-polysaccharide (Vi-PS) vaccines and were subsequently challenged with Salmonella Typhi bacteria. Multivariate analyses identified distinct protective signatures for Vi-TT and Vi-PS vaccines in addition to shared features that predicted protection across both groups. Vi IgA quantity and avidity correlated with protection from S. Typhi infection, whereas higher fold increases in Vi IgG responses were associated with reduced disease severity. Targeted antibody-mediated functional responses, particularly neutrophil phagocytosis, were also identified as important components of the protective signature. These humoral markers could be used to evaluate and develop efficacious Vi-conjugate vaccines and assist with accelerating vaccine availability to typhoid-endemic regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20201116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7668386PMC
February 2021

Quick COVID-19 Healers Sustain Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Production.

Cell 2020 12 3;183(6):1496-1507.e16. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Division of Genetics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address:

Antibodies are key immune effectors that confer protection against pathogenic threats. The nature and longevity of the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 infection are not well defined. We charted longitudinal antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in 92 subjects after symptomatic COVID-19. Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 are unimodally distributed over a broad range, with symptom severity correlating directly with virus-specific antibody magnitude. Seventy-six subjects followed longitudinally to ∼100 days demonstrated marked heterogeneity in antibody duration dynamics. Virus-specific IgG decayed substantially in most individuals, whereas a distinct subset had stable or increasing antibody levels in the same time frame despite similar initial antibody magnitudes. These individuals with increasing responses recovered rapidly from symptomatic COVID-19 disease, harbored increased somatic mutations in virus-specific memory B cell antibody genes, and had persistent higher frequencies of previously activated CD4 T cells. These findings illuminate an efficient immune phenotype that connects symptom clearance speed to differential antibody durability dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608032PMC
December 2020

SARS-CoV-2 viral load is associated with increased disease severity and mortality.

Nat Commun 2020 10 30;11(1):5493. Epub 2020 Oct 30.

Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

The relationship between SARS-CoV-2 viral load and risk of disease progression remains largely undefined in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Here, we quantify SARS-CoV-2 viral load from participants with a diverse range of COVID-19 disease severity, including those requiring hospitalization, outpatients with mild disease, and individuals with resolved infection. We detected SARS-CoV-2 plasma RNA in 27% of hospitalized participants, and 13% of outpatients diagnosed with COVID-19. Amongst the participants hospitalized with COVID-19, we report that a higher prevalence of detectable SARS-CoV-2 plasma viral load is associated with worse respiratory disease severity, lower absolute lymphocyte counts, and increased markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein and IL-6. SARS-CoV-2 viral loads, especially plasma viremia, are associated with increased risk of mortality. Our data show that SARS-CoV-2 viral loads may aid in the risk stratification of patients with COVID-19, and therefore its role in disease pathogenesis should be further explored.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19057-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7603483PMC
October 2020