Immune profiling of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy reveals NK cell and γδ T cell perturbations

Jennifer R. Habel, Brendon Y. Chua, Lukasz Kedzierski, Kevin J. Selva, Timon Damelang, Ebene R. Haycroft, Thi H.O. Nguyen, Hui Fern Koay, Suellen Nicholson, Hayley A. McQuilten, Xiaoxiao Jia, Lilith F. Allen, Luca Hensen, Wuji Zhang, Carolien E. van de Sandt, Jessica A. Neil, Katherine Pragastis, Jillian S.Y. Lau, Jaycee Jumarang, E. Kaitlynn AllenFatima Amanant, Florian Krammer, Kathleen M. Wragg, Jennifer A. Juno, Adam K. Wheatley, Hyon Xhi Tan, Gabrielle Pell, Susan Walker, Jennifer Audsley, Arnold Reynaldi, Irani Thevarajan, Justin T. Denholm, Kanta Subbarao, Miles P. Davenport, P. Mark Hogarth, Dale I. Godfrey, Allen C. Cheng, Steven Y.C. Tong, Katherine Bond, Deborah A. Williamson, James H. McMahon, Paul G. Thomas, Pia S. Pannaraj, Fiona James, Natasha E. Holmes, Olivia C. Smibert, Jason A. Trubiano, Claire L. Gordon, Amy W. Chung, Clare L. Whitehead, Stephen J. Kent, Martha Lappas, Louise C. Rowntree, Katherine Kedzierska

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Pregnancy poses a greater risk for severe COVID-19; however, underlying immunological changes associated with SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy are poorly understood. We defined immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in unvaccinated pregnant and nonpregnant women with acute and convalescent COVID-19, quantifying 217 immunological parameters. Humoral responses to SARS-CoV-2 were similar in pregnant and nonpregnant women, although our systems serology approach revealed distinct antibody and FcγR profiles between pregnant and nonpregnant women. Cellular analyses demonstrated marked differences in NK cell and unconventional T cell activation dynamics in pregnant women. Healthy pregnant women displayed preactivated NK cells and γδ T cells when compared with healthy nonpregnant women, which remained unchanged during acute and convalescent COVID-19. Conversely, nonpregnant women had prototypical activation of NK and γδ T cells. Activation of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and T follicular helper cells was similar in SARSCoV-2-infected pregnant and nonpregnant women, while antibody-secreting B cells were increased in pregnant women during acute COVID-19. Elevated levels of IL-8, IL-10, and IL-18 were found in pregnant women in their healthy state, and these cytokine levels remained elevated during acute and convalescent COVID-19. Collectively, we demonstrate perturbations in NK cell and γδ T cell activation in unvaccinated pregnant women with COVID-19, which may impact disease progression and severity during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere167157
Number of pages21
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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