Preexisting and de novo humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in humans

11 December 2020 Vol 370, Issue 6522


Preexisting and de novo humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in humans
By Kevin W. Ng, Nikhil Faulkner, Georgina H. Cornish, Annachiara Rosa, Ruth Harvey, Saira Hussain, Rachel Ulferts, Christopher Earl, Antoni G. Wrobel, Donald J. Benton, Chloe Roustan, William Bolland, Rachael Thompson, Ana Agua-Doce, Philip Hobson, Judith Heaney, Hannah Rickman, Stavroula Paraskevopoulou, Catherine F. Houlihan, Kirsty Thomson, Emilie Sanchez, Gee Yen Shin, Moira J. Spyer, Dhira Joshi, Nicola O’Reilly, Philip A. Walker, Svend Kjaer, Andrew Riddell, Catherine Moore, Bethany R. Jebson, Meredyth Wilkinson, Lucy R. Marshall, Elizabeth C. Rosser, Anna Radziszewska, Hannah Peckham, Coziana Ciurtin, Lucy R. Wedderburn, Rupert Beale, Charles Swanton, Sonia Gandhi, Brigitta Stockinger, John McCauley, Steve J. Gamblin, Laura E. McCoy, Peter Cherepanov, Eleni Nastouli, George Kassiotis
Science11 Dec 2020 : 1339-1343 Open Access
SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies can be found in some uninfected individuals—predominantly children and adolescents.
Antibodies predating infection
Immunological memory after infection with seasonal human coronaviruses (hCoVs) may potentially contribute to cross-protection against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Ng et al. report that in a cohort of 350 SARS-CoV-2–uninfected individuals, a small proportion had circulating immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies that could cross-react with the S2 subunit of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (see the Perspective by Guthmiller and Wilson). By contrast, COVID-19 patients generated IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies that recognized both the S1 and S2 subunits. The anti-S2 antibodies from SARS-CoV-2–uninfected patients showed specific neutralizing activity against both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 S pseudotypes. A much higher percentage of SARS-CoV-2–uninfected children and adolescents were positive for these antibodies compared with adults. This pattern may be due to the fact that children and adolescents generally have higher hCoV infection rates and a more diverse antibody repertoire, which may explain the age distribution of COVID-19 susceptibility.