Whole-blood cytokine secretion assay as a high-throughput alternative for assessing the cell-mediated immunity profile after two doses of an adjuvanted SARS-CoV-2 recombinant protein vaccine candidate

Academic Article


  • Objectives: We previously described the Phase I-II evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 recombinant protein candidate vaccine, CoV2-PreS-dTM, with AF03- or AS03-adjuvant systems (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04537208). Here, we further characterise the cellular immunogenicity profile of this vaccine candidate using a whole-blood secretion assay in parallel to intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) of cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Methods: A randomly allocated subset of 90 healthy, SARS-CoV-2-seronegative adults aged ≥ 18 years who had received (random allocation) one or two separate injections (on study day [D]1 and D22) of saline placebo or CoV2-PreS-dTM formulated with AS03 or AF03 were included. Cytokine secretion was assessed using a TruCulture® whole-blood stimulation system in combination with multiplex bead array, and intracellular cytokine profiles were evaluated on thawed PBMCs following ex vivo stimulation with recombinant S protein at pre-vaccination (D1), post-dose 1 (D22) and post-dose 2 (D36). Results: Both methods detected similar vaccine-induced responses after the first and second doses. We observed a Th1 bias (Th1/Th2 ratio > 1.0) for most treatment groups when analysed in whole blood, mainly characterised by increased IFN-γ, IL-2 and TNF-α secretion. Among participants aged ≥ 50 years, the Th1/Th2 ratio was higher for those who received vaccine candidate with AS03 versus AF03 adjuvant. ICS revealed that this higher Th1/Th2 ratio resulted from higher levels of IFN-γ expression and that the vaccine induced polyfunctional CD4+ T cells. Conclusions: The whole-blood cytokine secretion assay is a high-throughput alternative for assessing the quantity and character of vaccine-induced cellular responses.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 11304045
  • Author List

  • De Rosa SC; Cohen KW; Bonaparte M; Fu B; Garg S; Gerard C; Goepfert PA; Huang Y; Larocque D; McElrath MJ
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 1