Single-Cell Immunogenomic Approach Identified SARS-CoV-2 Protective Immune Signatures in Asymptomatic Direct Contacts of COVID-19 Cases

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Frontiers in Immunology


The response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is largely impacted by the level of virus exposure and status of the host immunity. The nature of protection shown by direct asymptomatic contacts of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-positive patients is quite intriguing. In this study, we have characterized the antibody titer, SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus neutralization, cytokine levels, single-cell T-cell receptor (TCR), and B-cell receptor (BCR) profiling in asymptomatic direct contacts, infected cases, and controls. We observed significant increase in antibodies with neutralizing amplitude in asymptomatic contacts along with cytokines such as Eotaxin, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), interleukin 7 (IL-7), migration inhibitory factor (MIF), and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α). Upon single-cell RNA (scRNA) sequencing, we explored the dynamics of the adaptive immune response in few representative asymptomatic close contacts and COVID-19-infected patients. We reported direct asymptomatic contacts to have decreased CD4+ naive T cells with concomitant increase in CD4+ memory and CD8+ Temra cells along with expanded clonotypes compared to infected patients. Noticeable proportions of class switched memory B cells were also observed in them. Overall, these findings gave an insight into the nature of protection in asymptomatic contacts.



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