Study finds stable T-Cell response against Omicron after mRNA booster vaccination

 Antibodies are critical when talking about protection against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its associated variants. However, antibodies are not the only weapon the immune system has at its disposal.

Study: T cell response following anti COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccination is maintained against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron B.1.1.529 variant of concern. Image Credit: natatravel/ShutterstockStudy: T cell response following anti COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccination is maintained against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron B.1.1.529 variant of concern. Image Credit: natatravel/Shutterstock

As an undervalued but important member of the immune system, T cells are essential for preventing the virus from spreading and as a result, limiting the progression for severe disease.

In the absence of antibodies or waning immunity against variants such as Omicron, T cells have remained on the front lines in protecting against foreign pathogens.

A new study published in the bioRxiv* preprint server measured T cell activity in vaccinated individuals and found a third vaccine provided substantial T-cell immunity against the Omicron variant.

As newer emerging VOCs are identified, maintenance of long-term protective immunity of vaccinated individuals represents a public health concern of high priority,” wrote the research team.

The study

The present study tracked the T cell responses of eight healthy and fully vaccinated and boosted individuals living in Israel against the Omicron variant and the original SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain.

The average age of participants was 27.1 years old, with ages ranging from 20 to 52 years. All individuals were vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The participants were not previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.

All participants donated their blood where researchers studied the type and level of response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBC) against a mixture containing the make-up of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The samples were collected 4 to 5 months after their third booster.

Results

Exposure to spike-derived peptides induced an IFNg response and low IL-10 response. Against both the original SARS-CoV-2 and Omicron spike protein, there was a small reduction in response.

With the original SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, there was a non-significant decrease from 201 IFNg-secreting cells to 188 cells. The IFNg response was greater than the IL-10 response.

From the three Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, there appears to be a dominant Th1, but not Th2 response against SARS-CoV-2.

Because the data was similar to both the original SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and Omicron’s, the researchers predict the CD4 and CD8 components of T cells would most likely remain steady against both variants as well.

Conclusion

Having a strong Th1 response correlates with protective immunity. However, more research is on T-cell responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern is needed in older populations at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection.

*Important Notice

bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:

Cohen H, et al. (2022). T cell response following anti COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccination is maintained against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron B.1.1.529 variant of concern. bioRxiv. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.19.476497 https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.19.476497v1 

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

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Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira graduated with a Bachelor's in Integrative Neuroscience, where she then pursued graduate research looking at the long-term effects of adolescent binge drinking on the brain's neurochemistry in adulthood.

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Comments

  1. Steve Macdonald Steve Macdonald Canada says:

    Israel has just approved a fourth shot. Whatever protection these boosters provide is short lived and wanes faster each time. This is not a good situation. It's time for some sober reconsideration of the vaccine strategy before we end up in ADE hell.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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