Global patterns of antigen receptor repertoire disruption across adaptive immune compartments in COVID-19

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Whereas pathogen-specific T and B cells are a primary focus of interest during infectious disease, we have used COVID-19 to ask whether their emergence comes at a cost of broader B cell and T cell repertoire disruption. We applied a genomic DNA-based approach to concurrently study the immunoglobulin-heavy (IGH) and T cell receptor (TCR) β and δ chain loci of 95 individuals. Our approach detected anticipated repertoire focusing for the IGH repertoire, including expansions of clusters of related sequences temporally aligned with SARS-CoV-2-specific seroconversion, and enrichment of some shared SARS-CoV-2-associated sequences. No significant age-related or disease severity-related deficiencies were noted for the IGH repertoire. By contrast, whereas focusing occurred at the TCRβ and TCRδ loci, including some TCRβ sequence-sharing, disruptive repertoire narrowing was almost entirely limited to many patients aged older than 50 y. By temporarily reducing T cell diversity and by risking expansions of nonbeneficial T cells, these traits may constitute an age-related risk factor for COVID-19, including a vulnerability to new variants for which T cells may provide key protection.

Journal details

Volume 119
Issue number 34
Pages e2201541119
Available online
Publication date