Human coronavirus OC43-elicited CD4 T cells protect against SARS-CoV-2 in HLA transgenic mice.

Publication date: Jan 26, 2024

SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells are detected in some healthy unexposed individuals. Human studies indicate these T cells could be elicited by the common cold coronavirus OC43. To directly test this assumption and define the role of OC43-elicited T cells that are cross-reactive with SARS-CoV-2, we develop a model of sequential infections with OC43 followed by SARS-CoV-2 in HLA-B*0702 and HLA-DRB1*0101 Ifnar1 transgenic mice. We find that OC43 infection can elicit polyfunctional CD8 and CD4 effector T cells that cross-react with SARS-CoV-2 peptides. Furthermore, pre-exposure to OC43 reduces subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease in the lung for a short-term in HLA-DRB1*0101 Ifnar1 transgenic mice, and a longer-term in HLA-B*0702 Ifnar1 transgenic mice. Depletion of CD4 T cells in HLA-DRB1*0101 Ifnar1 transgenic mice with prior OC43 exposure results in increased viral burden in the lung but no change in virus-induced lung damage following infection with SARS-CoV-2 (versus CD4 T cell-sufficient mice), demonstrating that the OC43-elicited SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive T cell-mediated cross-protection against SARS-CoV-2 is partially dependent on CD4 T cells. These findings contribute to our understanding of the origin of pre-existing SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells and their effects on SARS-CoV-2 clinical outcomes, and also carry implications for development of broadly protective betacoronavirus vaccines.

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Concepts Keywords
Betacoronavirus B*0702
Cd4 Coronavirus
Depletion Cov
Healthy Cross
Mice Drb1

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