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Publications of the Week

Persistence and Decay of Human Antibody Responses to the Receptor Binding Domain of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein in COVID-19 Patients

By October 26, 2020No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in Science Immunology from the laboratories
of Drs. Richelle Charles and Jason Harris at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Pictured (from left): Anita Iyer, Meagan Kelly, Rachel Mills, Damien Slater, Jason Harris, Mohammad Kamruzzaman, Ariana Nodoushani and Richelle Charles.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Prior to COVID, work in the Charles lab was focused on the development of diagnostics for typhoid and paratyphoid fever and characterization of immune responses during typhoid fever and cholera, as well as vaccination against these infections. The Harris lab is focused on the study of host-pathogen interactions and the innate and adaptive immune response to Vibrio cholerae, cholera vaccines, and in the area of susceptibility to cholera.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

From this study, we can conclude that antibody responses may not be as fleeting as we originally thought. We show that antibody responses to the receptor binding domain of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 persist beyond 3-4 months of infection, and these responses are highly correlated with the presence of neutralizing antibodies. We also found that measuring different types of antibodies may be helpful. For example, while we found that IgG antibodies persisted for 4 months, immunoglobulin A (IgA) and immunoglobulin M (IgM) responses were relatively short lived, declining back to low levels within about 2 and a half months or less on average. Knowing this information can help scientists better interpret antibody results and get more accurate data about the spread of COVID19.

What are the next steps for this research?

This publication was limited to evaluation of people with severe COVID disease, and we looked only up to 4 months after infection. We are now looking to see the persistence of antibody responses for longer period of time and across clinical spectrums of diseases (asymptomatic to severe infection).

This work was funded by:

This work was supported in part by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U01CK000490), the National Institutes of Health (R01 AI146779; T32 GM007753; R01 AI135115 and T32 AI007245) and MassCPR.

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