Immune cell populations and induced immune responses at admission in patients hospitalized with vaccine breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections

Adin Sejdic, Hans Jakob Hartling, Jon Gitz Holler, Lars Klingen Gjærde, Birgitte Lindegaard, Arnold Matovu Dungu, Filip Gnesin, Maria Elizabeth Engel Møller, Rebecca Svanberg Teglgaard, Carsten Utoft Niemann, Patrick Terrence Brooks, Charlotte Sværke Jørgensen, Kristina Træholt Franck, Thea K Fischer, Hanne Vibeke Marquart, Zitta Barrella Harboe*, Sisse Rye Ostrowski

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde


BACKGROUND: Vaccine breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections are common and of clinical and public health concern. However, little is known about the immunological characteristics of patients hospitalized due to these infections. We aimed to investigate and compare immune cell subpopulations and induced immune responses in vaccinated and non-vaccinated patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19.

METHODS: A nested case-control study on adults (≥ 18 years) who received at least two doses of a mRNA-COVID-19 vaccine and were hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections and severe COVID-19 between January 7, 2021, and February 1, 2022, were eligible for inclusion. Age- and sex-matched non-vaccinated controls were identified. Immunophenotyping was performed using a custom-designed 10-color flow cytometry prefabricated freeze-dried antibody panel (DuraClone, Beckman Coulter (BC), Brea, Calif). TruCulture (Myriad RBM, Austin, USA) was used to assess induced immune response in whole blood, revealing different critical signaling pathways as a proxy for immune function. All samples were obtained within 48 hours of admission.

RESULTS: In total, 20 hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 and a breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection were included, ten vaccinated and ten non-vaccinated patients. Vaccinated patients had lower concentrations of CD19 B cells (p = 0.035), naïve CD4 T cells (p = 0.015), a higher proportion of γδ1 T cells (p = 0.019), and higher unstimulated immune cell release of IL-10 (p = 0.015).

CONCLUSION: We observed immunological differences between vaccinated and non-vaccinated patients hospitalized due to severe COVID-19 that indicate that vaccinated patients had lower B cell concentrations, lower concentrations of CD4 naïve T cells, a skewed gamma-delta V1/V2 ratio, and an exaggerated IL-10 response at admission. These results could indicate a suboptimal immune response involved in SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections that cause severe COVID-19 in vaccinated adults. However, the sample size was small, and further research is needed to confirm these results.

TidsskriftFrontiers in Immunology
Sider (fra-til)1360843
StatusUdgivet - 2024


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