Background: HIV infection dysregulates the B cell compartment, affecting memory B cell formation and the antibody response to infection and vaccination. Understanding the B cell response to SARS-CoV-2 in people living with HIV (PLWH) may explain the increased morbidity, reduced vaccine efficacy, reduced clearance, and intra-host evolution of SARS-CoV-2 observed in some HIV-1 coinfections.
Methods: We compared B cell responses to COVID-19 in PLWH and HIV negative (HIV-ve) patients in a cohort recruited in Durban, South Africa, during the first pandemic wave in July 2020 using detailed flow cytometry phenotyping of longitudinal samples with markers of B cell maturation, homing and regulatory features.
Results: This revealed a coordinated B cell response to COVID-19 that differed significantly between HIV-ve and PLWH. Memory B cells in PLWH displayed evidence of reduced germinal center (GC) activity, homing capacity and class-switching responses, with increased PD-L1 expression, and decreased Tfh frequency. This was mirrored by increased extrafollicular (EF) activity, with dynamic changes in activated double negative (DN2) and activated naïve B cells, which correlated with anti-RBD-titres in these individuals. An elevated SARS-CoV-2 specific EF response in PLWH was confirmed using viral spike and RBD bait proteins.
Conclusions: Despite similar disease severity, these trends were highest in participants with uncontrolled HIV, implicating HIV in driving these changes. EF B cell responses are rapid but give rise to lower affinity antibodies, less durable long-term memory, and reduced capacity to adapt to new variants. Further work is needed to determine the long-term effects of HIV on SARS-CoV-2 immunity, particularly as new variants emerge.
Funding: This work was supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust to the Africa Health Research Institute (Wellcome Trust Strategic Core Award [grant number 201433/Z/16/Z]). Additional funding was received from the South African Department of Science and Innovation through the National Research Foundation (South African Research Chairs Initiative, [grant number 64809]), and the Victor Daitz Foundation.
All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and Source data 1.
- Alex Sigal
- Alex Sigal
- Alex Sigal
- Alex Sigal
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: The study protocol was approved by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (approval BREC/00001275/2020). Written informed consent was obtained for all enrolled participants.
- Bavesh D Kana, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
© 2022, Krause et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The NIH-funded RECOVER study is collecting clinical data on patients who experience a SARS-CoV-2 infection. As patient representatives of the RECOVER Initiative’s Mechanistic Pathways task force, we offer our perspectives on patient motivations for partnering with researchers to obtain results from mechanistic studies. We emphasize the challenges of balancing urgency with scientific rigor. We recognize the importance of such partnerships in addressing post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), which includes ‘long COVID,’ through contrasting objective and subjective narratives. Long COVID’s prevalence served as a call to action for patients like us to become actively involved in efforts to understand our condition. Patient-centered and patient-partnered research informs the balance between urgency and robust mechanistic research. Results from collaborating on protocol design, diverse patient inclusion, and awareness of community concerns establish a new precedent in biomedical research study design. With a public health matter as pressing as the long-term complications that can emerge after SARS-CoV-2 infection, considerate and equitable stakeholder involvement is essential to guiding seminal research. Discussions in the RECOVER Mechanistic Pathways task force gave rise to this commentary as well as other review articles on the current scientific understanding of PASC mechanisms.
In most of the world, the mammography screening programmes were paused at the start of the pandemic, whilst mammography screening continued in Denmark. We examined the mammography screening participation during the COVID-19 pandemic in Denmark.
The study population comprised all women aged 50–69 years old invited to participate in mammography screening from 2016 to 2021 in Denmark based on data from the Danish Quality Database for Mammography Screening in combination with population-based registries. Using a generalised linear model, we estimated prevalence ratios (PRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of mammography screening participation within 90, 180, and 365 d since invitation during the pandemic in comparison with the previous years adjusting for age, year and month of invitation.
The study comprised 1,828,791 invitations among 847,766 women. Before the pandemic, 80.2% of invitations resulted in participation in mammography screening within 90 d, 82.7% within 180 d, and 83.1% within 365 d. At the start of the pandemic, the participation in screening within 90 d was reduced to 69.9% for those invited in pre-lockdown and to 76.5% for those invited in first lockdown. Extending the length of follow-up time to 365 d only a minor overall reduction was observed (PR = 0.94; 95% CI: 0.93–0.95 in pre-lockdown and PR = 0.97; 95% CI: 0.96–0.97 in first lockdown). A lower participation was, however, seen among immigrants and among women with a low income.
The short-term participation in mammography screening was reduced at the start of the pandemic, whilst only a minor reduction in the overall participation was observed with longer follow-up time, indicating that women postponed screening. Some groups of women, nonetheless, had a lower participation, indicating that the social inequity in screening participation was exacerbated during the pandemic.
The study was funded by the Danish Cancer Society Scientific Committee (grant number R321-A17417) and the Danish regions.