Stanford University Study Shows that Newborn Babies and young children have super Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 Variants for up to 300 days.
New research shows infants’ immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 during their initial months are higher than some vaccines. This research was led by the University of Tübingen in Germany and partners from Stanford University, Emory University, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the United States.
This new research was published in the journal Cell under “Multi-omics Analysis of Mucosal and Systemic Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 After Birth”. It has unveiled intriguing insights. It reveals that infants and young children exhibit enduring antibody responses for 300 days following infection.
Addressing a Crucial Knowledge Gap
This study addresses a crucial gap in our understanding. Until now, there hasn’t been a comprehensive, system-wide, long-term analysis of how infants’ and young children’s immune systems react to SARS-CoV-2 infection. This new study shows encompassing the development of their immune systems, antibody responses, and the activation of innate immunity. The researchers gathered data from children, adults, and mothers to gain a holistic perspective on infant immune reactions.
Data Collection and Cohorts
Blood and nasal swab samples were collected from infants and young children to achieve this. It was collected from the IMPRINT cohort at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. These children underwent weekly SARS-CoV-2 testing. The cohort comprised 54 infected infants and young children, including 27 with pre-infection samples.
An additional 27 matched control infants and young children consistently tested negative from birth to sampling. It was also part of the study.
Moreover, the study extended its reach to include 62 blood samples from 48 adult COVID-19 patients and ten healthy control samples. These samples were sourced from the Hope Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta and the Stanford University Medical Center. Blood samples were also obtained from 41 mothers with mild COVID-19, including three with pre-infection samples and three matched controls.
Unique Immune Responses in Infants
Infants and young children have stronger and longer-lasting antibody responses than adults. This is a noticeable difference. While antibody responses tend to wane swiftly in adults, infants maintained high antibody titers for an impressive 300 days.
Children’s blood showed that specific cells were more active. But there was not a significant increase in inflammation. Infants had lower memory responses than adults. However they did have increases in certain types of cells that produce helpful proteins. These triple-positive cells produced three specific proteins.
Nevertheless, they demonstrated increases in multifunctional T helper 17 and type 1 CD4+ T cells. These cells produced interleukin-2, interferon-gamma, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, earning them the triple-positive designation.
Babies’ immune systems had a strong response in the mucous membranes with inflammation, interferon α, and markers linked to T helper 17 and neutrophil reactions. This response was especially noticeable in the nasal mucosa.
Despite a reduction of multifunctional CD4 T cell responses in infants, the observations of persistent antibody responses were of considerable significance. These findings open up the possibility of tailoring vaccine formulations to leverage these innate immune system activation pathways.
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