Breakthrough infections by SARS-CoV-2 variants boost cross-reactive hybrid immune responses in mRNA-vaccinated Golden Syrian hamsters

Juan García Bernalt Diego, Gagandeep Singh, Sonia Jangra, Kim Handrejk, Manon Laporte, Lauren A. Chang, Sara S. El Zahed, Lars Pache, Max W. Chang, Prajakta Warang, Sadaf Aslam, Ignacio Mena, Brett T. Webb, Christopher Benner, Adolfo García-Sastre, Michael Schotsaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hybrid immunity (vaccination + natural infection) to SARS-CoV-2 provides superior protection to re-infection. We performed immune profiling studies during breakthrough infections in mRNA-vaccinated hamsters to evaluate hybrid immunity induction. The mRNA vaccine, BNT162b2, was dosed to induce binding antibody titers against ancestral spike, but inefficient serum virus neutralization of ancestral SARS-CoV-2 or variants of concern (VoCs). Vaccination reduced morbidity and controlled lung virus titers for ancestral virus and Alpha but allowed breakthrough infections in Beta, Delta and Mu-challenged hamsters. Vaccination primed for T cell responses that were boosted by infection. Infection back-boosted neutralizing antibody responses against ancestral virus and VoCs. Hybrid immunity resulted in more cross-reactive sera, reflected by smaller antigenic cartography distances. Transcriptomics post-infection reflects both vaccination status and disease course and suggests a role for interstitial macrophages in vaccine-mediated protection. Therefore, protection by vaccination, even in the absence of high titers of neutralizing antibodies in the serum, correlates with recall of broadly reactive B- and T-cell responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1011805
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

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