COVID-19 Humoral and T-Cell Immune Responses Among People Living With HIV

A positive relationship may exist between infection severity and adaptive immunity.

It is known that people living with HIV (PLWH) have an increased frequency of risk factors for severe COVID-19, including pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. However, protective humoral and T-cell immune response characterization among this population is still not well known.

Recently, investigators from Bellvitge University Hospital, in collaboration with the Universitat de Barcelona, conducted a study to assess these responses in chronically infected HIV patients.

Data from the study was presented the 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science.

For the study, the team of investigators assessed SARS-CoV-2-specific serological and functional T-cell immune responses against main immunogenic antigens in 11 HIV positive participants at 3 and 6 months after a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

This data was then compared to 34 immunocompetent (IC) participants who had developed mild (21) and severe (13) disease. A healthy cohort of 16 participants who bio-banked peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was also analyzed.

Results from the study showed that IFN-γ, IL2 and polyfunctional IFN-γ/IL2 producing T-cell frequencies were similar between patients and IC with mild symptoms at 3 and 6 months after infection.

At 6 months, all severe IC, 3 of 18 mild IC and 7 of 11 HIV patients showed IgG seropositivity. Additionally, the majority of the HIV patients showed a broad range of SARS-CoV-2 (Spike)-specific memory B-cell responses.

“Our data suggest a comparable natural immunization among chronic HIV, similar to that of IC convalescent patients developing similar COVID-19 disease severity,” the authors wrote. “Notably, functional B and T-cell assessment may more reliably detect immunized patients with robust immune memory responses as compared to serological memory assessment during mid-term convalescence.”