Memory T cells contribute to rapid viral clearance during re-infection, but the longevity and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cells remain unclear. Here we conduct ex vivo assays to evaluate SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses in COVID-19 convalescent patients up to 317 days post-symptom onset (DPSO), and find that memory T cell responses are maintained during the study period regardless of the severity of COVID-19. In particular, we observe sustained polyfunctionality and proliferation capacity of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. Among SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells detected by activation-induced markers, the proportion of stem cell-like memory T (TSCM) cells is increased, peaking at approximately 120 DPSO. Development of TSCM cells is confirmed by SARS-CoV-2-specific MHC-I multimer staining. Considering the self-renewal capacity and multipotency of TSCM cells, our data suggest that SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells are long-lasting after recovery from COVID-19, thus support the feasibility of effective vaccination programs as a measure for COVID-19 control.

Fuente: Nature Communications