Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Whole blood-based measurement of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells reveals asymptomatic infection and vaccine immunogenicity in healthy subjects and patients with solid organ cancers

Scurr, Martin ORCID:, Zelek, Wioleta, Lippiatt, George, Somerville, Michelle, Burnell, Stephanie, Capitani, Lorenzo, Davies, Kate, Lawton, Helen, Tozer, Thomas, Rees, Tara, Roberts, Kerry, Evans, Mererid, Jackson, Amanda, Young, Charlotte, Fairclough, Lucy, Tighe, Paddy, Wills, Mark, Westwell, Andrew ORCID:, Morgan, Bryan Paul ORCID:, Gallimore, Awen ORCID: and Godkin, Andrew ORCID: 2022. Whole blood-based measurement of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells reveals asymptomatic infection and vaccine immunogenicity in healthy subjects and patients with solid organ cancers. Immunology 165 (2) , pp. 250-259. 10.1111/imm.13433

[thumbnail of Immunology - 2021 - Scurr - Whole blood‐based measurement of SARS‐CoV‐2‐specific T cells reveals asymptomatic infection and no ad.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (279kB) | Preview


Accurate assessment of SARS-CoV-2 immunity is critical to evaluating vaccine efficacy and devising public health policies. Whilst the exact nature of effective immunity remains incompletely defined, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses are a critical feature that will likely form a key correlate of protection against COVID-19. Here, we developed and optimised a high-throughput whole blood-based assay to determine the T cell response associated with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or vaccination amongst 231 healthy donors and 68 cancer patients. Following overnight in vitro stimulation with SARS-CoV-2-specific peptides, blood plasma samples were analysed for TH1-type cytokines. Highly significant differential IFN-γ+/IL-2+ SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses were seen amongst previously infected COVID-19-positive healthy donors in comparison to unknown / naïve individuals (P<0.0001). IFN-γ production was more effective at identifying asymptomatic donors, demonstrating higher sensitivity (96.0% vs. 83.3%) but lower specificity (84.4% vs. 92.5%) than measurement of IL-2. A single COVID-19 vaccine dose induced IFN-γ and/or IL-2 SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses in 116/128 (90.6%) of healthy donors, reducing significantly to 27/56 (48.2%) when measured in cancer patients (P<0.0001). A second dose was sufficient to boost T cell responses in the majority (90.6%) of cancer patients, albeit IFN-γ+ responses were still significantly lower overall than those induced in healthy donors (P=0.034). Three-month post-vaccination T cell responses also declined at a faster rate in cancer patients. Overall, this cost-effective standardisable test ensures accurate and comparable assessments of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses amenable to widespread population immunity testing, and identifies individuals at greater need of booster vaccinations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0019-2805
Funders: Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 November 2021
Date of Acceptance: 17 September 2021
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2023 18:01

Citation Data

Cited 9 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics