Cutting Edge: SARS-CoV-2 Infection Induces Robust Germinal Center Activity in the Human Tonsil

Hyon Xhi Tan, Kathleen M. Wragg, Hannah G. Kelly, Robyn Esterbauer, Benjamin J. Dixon, Jillian S.Y. Lau, Katie L. Flanagan, Carolien E. van de Sandt, Katherine Kedzierska, James H. McMahon, Adam K. Wheatley, Jennifer A. Juno, Stephen J. Kent

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the generation of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in lymphoid tissues draining the site of infection has implications for immunity to SARS-CoV-2. We performed tonsil biopsies under local anesthesia in 19 subjects who had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection 24-225 d previously. The biopsies yielded >3 million cells for flow cytometric analysis in 17 subjects. Total and SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific germinal center B cells, and T follicular helper cells, were readily detectable in human tonsils early after SARS-CoV-2 infection, as assessed by flow cytometry. Responses were higher in samples within 2 mo of infection but still detectable in some subjects out to 7 mo following infection. We conclude the tonsils are a secondary lymphoid organ that develop germinal center responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and could play a role in the long-term development of immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2267-2271
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2022

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