Functional Profiling of In Vitro Reactivated Memory B Cells Following Natural SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Gam-COVID-Vac Vaccination

Both SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination have previously been demonstrated to elicit robust, yet somewhat limited immunity against the evolving variants of SARS-CoV-2. Nevertheless, reports performing side-by-side comparison of immune responses following infection vs. vaccination have been relatively scarce. The aim of this study was to compare B-cell response to adenovirus-vectored vaccination in SARS-CoV-2-naive individuals with that observed in the COVID-19 convalescent patients six months after the first encounter with the viral antigens. We set out to use a single analytical platform and performed comprehensive analysis of serum levels of receptor binding domain (RBD)-specific and virus-neutralizing antibodies, frequencies of RBD-binding circulating memory B cells (MBCs), MBC-derived antibody-secreting cells, as well as RBD-specific and virus-neutralizing activity of MBC-derived antibodies after Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik V) vaccination and/or natural SARS-CoV-2 infection. Overall, natural immunity was superior to Gam-COVID-Vac vaccination. The levels of neutralizing MBC-derived antibodies in the convalescent patients turned out to be significantly higher than those found following vaccination. Our results suggest that after six months, SARS-CoV-2-specific MBC immunity is more robust in COVID-19 convalescent patients than in Gam-COVID-Vac recipients. Collectively, our data unambiguously indicate that natural immunity outperforms Gam-COVID-Vac-induced immunity six months following recovery/vaccination, which should inform healthcare and vaccination decisions.

Astakhova Ekaterina A.1, 2 , Byazrova Maria G. 1, 2, 3 , Yusubalieva Gaukhar M.4 , Kulemzin Sergey V.5 , Kruglova Natalia A.6 , Prilipov Alexey G.1, 7 , Baklaushev Vladimir P.4 , Gorchakov Andrey A.5 , Taranin Alexander V.5
NLM (Medline)
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  • 1 National Research Center Institute of Immunology
  • 2 Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • 3 Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)
  • 4 Federal Research and Clinical Center for Specialized Types of Medical Care and Medical Technologies of the FMBA of Russia
  • 5 Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology RAS
  • 6 Center for Precision Genome Editing and Genetic Technologies for Biomedicine
  • 7 Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology
COVID-19; Gam-COVID-Vac vaccine; humoral immunity; memory B cells; neutralizing antibodies; SARS-CoV-2; Sputnik V vaccine
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